The Crisis of Organized Politics

  • Jo-Marie Burt


Modern democratic theory posits the relationship between citizen and state as one of positive interaction in which the citizen feels himself or herself represented in the decisions taken at the state level (Dahl 1971). Political parties hold a central place in democratic theory in terms of facilitating this interaction (Lipset and Rokkan 1967; Sartori 1976). With a few exceptions, however, political parties in Latin America have rarely performed this essential function. As a result, the state has often taken the lead in forging mediations from above, either in the form of state corporatism, or via clientelism and patronage polices.1 Though the early transitions literature tended to underemphasize the importance of political parties as mediating mechanisms between state and society (viewing them instead as mechanisms of social control to moderate social demands during delicate transition processes; O’Donnell and Schmitter 1986), recent literature has emphasized the difficulties of strengthening democratic governance in societies where political parties remain weak and fragmented (Mainwaring and Scully 1996; Mainwaring and Hagopian 2005). Indeed, establishing effective mediating mechanisms is essential to democratic governance, since it is through such linkages that the state accrues legitimacy and provides a basis for governing.


Civil Society Political Party Presidential Election Organize Politics Party System 
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© Jo-Marie Burt 2007

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  • Jo-Marie Burt

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