“Will the Revolution Be Televised? Party Organization, Media Activism, and the Communication Strategies of Left-Wing Governments in Latin America,” Comparative Politics, 2023, 56(1), pp. 23-47. https://doi.org/10.5129/001041523X16790064923818
How do parties respond to media environments slanted against them? Why do they respond to this challenge with different communication strategies? This article exploits variation in the level of media activism of left-wing governments in Latin America to answer these questions. I argue that the composition of governing parties’ bases of support shapes their communication strategy. Parties whose bases of support are unorganized lack societal channels of communication with the electorate and are forced to resort to alternative media structures to disseminate information. On the contrary, parties that draw support from organized constituencies take advantage of affiliated societal organizations to communicate with their electoral base, and do not depend on mediatized communication. To illustrate this theory, I process trace the cases of Ecuador and Bolivia, drawing on seventy original interviews with key decision-makers. This article contributes to the literature on political parties by highlighting the overlooked communication function they fulfill in the age of mass and social media.
“What Is To Be Done? How Radical Leftists Help to Solve the Problem of Personalist Party Building in Latin America” with Jared Abbott, Comparative Political Studies, 2023, forthcoming. https://doi.org/10.1177/00104140231194907
Political leaders around the world increasingly resort to personalist parties to compete electorally and govern. While existing scholarship assumes that personalist parties do not build territorial organization, in fact personalist parties vary substantially in terms of organizational strength. In this paper, we move beyond existing structural explanations of party-building and focus on the role of party elites’ preferences to explain the source of this variation. Through a mixed-method approach combining process tracing of the case studies of Venezuela’s MVR/PSUV and Ecuador’s Alianza PAIS and large-N statistical analysis of Latin American parties, we find that party elites’ past political experiences shape whether personalist parties successfully invest in party organization. Party officials that were socialized in radical-left parties are more likely to advocate for party-building and their presence within party cadres is associated with stronger party organization.
PEER-REVIEWED BOOK CHAPTERS
“Economic Elites and Development with Equity in Bolivia and Ecuador” with Eduardo Silva, in Jan Ickler and Rebeca Ramos, eds., Political Economy of Wealth and Elites in Latin America (New York: Routledge), 2023, forthcoming.
This chapter examines why Latin American economic elites, who have traditionally opposed state-led development, temporarily acquiesced in it after the election of left-wing parties in government in the 2000s. We argue that economic elites accommodated to the new development model because of critical changes in the balance of power between them and left-wing governments. The commodity boom, the crisis of pro-market parties, and the fragmentation within the pro-business associational space caused a decline in the economic, political, and social resources possessed by economic elites. This momentary disadvantage forced them to at least acquiesce in heterodox policies, while splits in governing coalitions encouraged their return to orthodox postures. We trace variation in the power resources that business elites mustered in four different periods in Bolivia and Ecuador to show the plausibility of our argument.
“Government Ideology and Support for Redistribution Among the Wealthy: Survey Experimental Evidence” with Daniel Rojas [under review].
When do wealthy individuals support redistributive policies? Recent literature finds that high levels of inequality and crime increase support for redistribution among the rich. However, research suggests that the wealthy oppose redistribution in Latin America, a region with high inequality and criminality. We draw on the economic difference between the Left and Right and argue that the rich are sensitive to the negative externalities of inequality, but their support for redistribution depends on who advances the redistributive agenda: the Left or the Right. We posit that the former is a costly option for the rich, who prefer to support redistributive policies under the Right. We contend three mechanisms explain this positive support: uncertainty about the upper bound of the redistributive policy, expected effectiveness, and concerns about macroeconomic stability. To test our theory, we conduct survey experiments among wealthy individuals during the 2022 Colombian presidential election. Consistently with our theoretical predictions, we find that wealthy Colombians support tax increases when proposed by the right-wing candidate and expect more effectiveness and less economic instability with a prospective right-wing government. Heterogeneous effects analyses further confirm that support for redistribution depends on who makes it. Our findings hold in a replication study.
“The Party is Over: Policy Switch and Party Dismantling in Moreno’s Ecuador” [under review].
This article explains the dramatic downfall of Alianza PAIS, the most electorally successful party in Ecuador’s recent history. It shows how, after his switch to a neoliberal policy agenda, President Moreno (2017-2021) dismantled his own party by starving it of the resources necessary to thrive. The paper marshals evidence from interviews, newspaper articles, and roll call votes to demonstrate how three conditions were causally important for this outcome to happen: the top-down structure of the party, the support Moreno received from the opposition, and the fact that Alianza PAIS represented a future threat to Moreno’s policy legacy. The paper contributes to the literature on party development by showing that party breakdown can be the intended consequence of party leadership's decisions and actions.
“Legacies of the Second Incorporation: Parties, Popular Sector Organizations, and the Durability of Pink Tide Era Interest Intermediation Regimes” with Eduardo Silva.
Over the last two decades much has been written about the Pink Tide, about its origins, its policy agendas, and its relations with societal actors. Now that this first wave of left-wing governments has ebbed and many of them have been replaced by conservative ones, we are in a better position to provide a longer-term assessment of their incorporation projects, their durability, and their legacy. In our analysis, we focus on the concept of interest intermediation regime (IIR) because it connects forms of articulating the competing and conflictual interests of diverse social groups to the state with the question of political stability and the role that such regimes play in democratic governance. We address two questions. First, what remains of the IIRs they implemented? Second, what explains variation in the durability of those IIRs in the face of conservative rollback? We argue that the strength of linkages between left parties and popular sector organizations influenced the resilience of IIRs. Whereas strong linkages facilitated the extra-electoral mobilization of popular sector organizations and increased the costs of rollback for right-wing governments, weak linkages failed to encourage popular sector mobilization in defense of existing channels of incorporation and made rollback more likely. We use the case studies of Bolivia and Ecuador to assess the validity our claims.
The Company You Keep: Centrists, Party Alliances, and Democratic Breakdown in Latin America and Southern Europe
"The Long Coup in Ecuador," NACLA Report on the Americas, November 18, 2019.
"Perché le proteste non sono tutte uguali: mobilitazione e lotta di classe in America Latina," Dinamo Press, December 18, 2019.