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Partisan Cleavages, State Retrenchment, and Free Trade: Latin America in the 1990s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 September 2022

Beatriz Magaloni
Stanford University
Vidal Romero
Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México
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This article accounts for the role that partisan divisions played in shaping variation in mass preferences for market-oriented policies in Latin America during the 1990s. Most of the existing studies on attitudes toward market reforms have focused on issues such as the timing of reforms, the presence of economic crises, and how economic performance shaped citizens' preferences. Fewer studies have investigated whether partisan cleavages translated into divergent preferences toward market reforms. Were there systematic differences between left- and right-wing voters in their preferences toward market reforms? Did left-wing voters oppose these policies and right-wing voters favor them? Which of these structural transformations—state retrenchment or trade liberalization—witnessed greater mass polarization along partisan lines? This article answers these questions with the use of a mass survey on public opinion about market reforms conducted by Mori International in eleven Latin American countries in 1998.



Este trabajo estudia las divisiones partidistas entre el electorado con respecto a sus preferencias sobre las reformas de mercado que fueron implementadas en la década de los noventa. La mayoría de los estudios sobre opinión pública se han enfocado en cómo factores como crisis económicas, el momento de inicio de las reformas y el desempeño económico afectaron las preferencias de los ciudadanos. Pocos estudios han investigado la manera como los clivajes partidistas se tradujeron en diversas preferencias. ¿Existieron diferencias sistemáticas entre votantes de izquierda y derecha en sus preferencias sobre políticas de mercado? ¿Los votantes de izquierda rechazaron estas políticas y los de derecha las apoyaron? ¿Cuál de las transformaciones estructurales—liberalización del comercio o reducción del estado—crearon más división partidista entre el electorado? Este trabajo contesta estas preguntas mediante el análisis sistemático de una encuesta de opinión levantada por Mori Internacional en 1998.

Research Article
Copyright © 2008 by the University of Texas Press



Previous versions of this paper were presented at the Workshop on the Analysis of Political Cleavages and Party Competition, at Duke University in April 2004. We thank Frances Haggopian, Herbert Kitschelt, Kenneth Scheve, and other participants in the workshop for their useful comments; the Center for Latin American Studies, University of California, Berkeley (April 11, 2005); and the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia (September 2, 2006). We thank Evelyne Huber for her insightful comments. We also thank Alberto Díaz-Cayeros and Federico Estévez for their comments, three anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, and César Olea for research assistance.


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