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Politicians and Politics in Latin America

Manuel Alcántara Sáez, editor
Politicians and Politics in Latin America
ISBN: 978-1-58826-548-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-154-5
2007/323 pages/LC: 2007014417

"A veritable gold mine for scholars of democracy and democratic consolidation.... The volume is replete with insights.... It is a critical resource for scholars already working in, or seeking to join in and help unravel, the world of Latin American politicians and democratic party politics." —Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, Latin American Politics and Society

"A masterful and comprehensive analysis of Latin American political parties and politicians. This outstanding volume will shape how scholars view the functioning of politics in the region for years to come."—Mark Jones, Rice University

"This important contribution to the study of Latin American politics is likely to be widely cited—and sometimes challenged. There is no other analysis like it."—Eduardo Aleman, University of Houston


The premise of this book is, simply, that politicians matter—that an understanding of the role played by politicians in the way that politics is carried out in their countries is, far from constituting a resurrection of outdated elitist theories, of vital importance in present-day Latin America.

The authors consider politicians as both cause and effect. Drawing on pioneering field research on the opinions of Latin American legislators in 17 countries, they focus on two broad topics: political systems, as reflected in politicians' perspectives on the democracies and party organizations of which they are a part; and the role played by ideology, not only in shaping positions on issues, but also as a factor that gives coherence to parties. Their seminal work is central to the current political dynamics in the region, as well as to broader debates in political science.


Manuel Alcántara Sáez is professor of politics and director of the Iberoamerican Institute at the University of Salamanca. His most recent books include ¿Instituciones o máquinas ideológicas? Origen, programa, y organización de los partidos latinoamericanos and Sistemas políticos de América Latina.


  • Introduction—M. Alcántara Sáez.
  • Studying Parliamentary Elites in Latin America, 1994-2006—F. García Díez and A. Mateos Díaz.
  • The Conundrum of Representation—P. Marenghi and M. García Montero.
  • The Meanings of Democracy and Institutional Trust—A. Mateos Díaz.
  • Legislators and Political Agendas—M. Alcántara Sáez.
  • The Organization of Political Parties—L.M. Ruiz Rodríguez.
  • The Dimensions of Polarization in Parliments—C. Rivas Pérez.
  • The Determinants of Intraparty Ideological Differences—F. Freidenberg, F. García Díez, and I. Llamazares Valduvieco.
  • Programmatic Coherence—L.M. Ruiz Rodríguez.
  • The Parliamentary Left—S. Martí I Puig and S. Santiuste Cué.
  • The Parliamentary Right—M. Alcántara Sáez and I. Llamazares Valduvieco.
  • Legislative Careers: Does Quality Matter?—M. Del Mar Martínez Rosón.
  • Politicians and Politics in Latin America After Twenty-Five Years of Democracy—M. Alcántara Sáez.