Uncertain Legitimacy: The Social and Political Restraints Underlying the Emergence of Democracy in Argentina, 1890–1930

  • Daniel James


“The problem of democracy,” and the failure of democratic political institutions to take root in a consistent fashion in Argentina, has exercised the minds of statesmen and political philosophers in that country since the early years of the century. Argentina was blessed with many of the resources and conditions deemed necessary for the installation and development of a viable democracy. It enjoyed — at least until recent decades — high levels of economic growth and relatively high comparative income levels. It possessed a social structure dominated by urban groups with relatively high levels of social mobility reflected in the presence of numerically significant middle sectors. There was, moreover, no semi-feudal rural society with its corresponding political systems of clientelism and patrimonialism. From the beginning of the century it had been characterized by a relative cultural and ethnic homogeneity due primarily to the lack of large-scale sedentary indigenous populations in the core areas of the country and to the particular profile of European immigration, which reached its height in the 1890–1930 period. Finally it enjoyed, from early in the century, comparatively high public cultural levels as measured by such indices as literacy and extension of public education.


Political System Political Participation Middle Sector Democratic Politics Socialist Party 
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© New York University Press 1995

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  • Daniel James

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