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Title: Party Brands in Crisis: Partisanship, Brand Dilution, and the Breakdown of Political Parties in Latin America
Authors: Lupu, Noam
Advisors: Yashar, Deborah
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Economic crisis
Latin America
Party breakdown
Political parties
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Why would a national political party that has been competitive for decades collapse overnight? In recent years, parties across Latin America went from being major contenders for executive office to electoral irrelevance over the course of a single electoral cycle. What explains these dramatic breakdowns? The standard answer is that these parties perform badly in office and lose support. But this fails to explain why some ruling parties survive disastrous terms in office while others break down. The explanation proposed in this dissertation focuses on the role of party brands, that is, voters' beliefs about what a party stands for. Voters develop stereotypes about parties, basing their partisan attachments on these stereotypes, or brands. When party brands are clear, voters form strong party attachments that are resistant to negative retrospective evaluations. The dilution of party brands erodes party attachments and makes party breakdown possible when parties perform poorly in office. Why do parties allow their brand to become diluted? Answering this question forces us to understand intraparty dynamics, specifically the different time horizons of party leaders and party elites. The crises experienced by many Latin American countries during the 1980s and 1990s gave party leaders incentives to pursue policies they believed would lead to good performance in the short term. When this agenda required taking actions that diluted the party brand - such as forming strange-bedfellow alliances with rivals or provoking intraparty conflict - party leaders put their individual gains ahead of the long-term strength of the party brand. I test both the micro-level and aggregate implications of this theory using a multi-method empirical strategy. This consists of two experiments embedded in a survey of Argentine voters as well as in-depth analysis and matched comparison of six case studies in Argentina and Venezuela. My theory of party breakdowns contributes to various areas of scholarly interest, including the nature of partisan attachments, the internal dynamics of parties, the competitive strategies of parties, and the lasting impact of politicians' responses to economic crises on democratic representation. This study also highlights that partisanship, political parties, and partisan conflict are fundamental features of democratic politics.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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