Party Systems In Latin America Essay

3719 words - 15 pages

Party Systems in Latin America

This essay will compare and contrast the party systems of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay according to Mainwaring and Shugart's Chapter 11 of Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America. First, I will discuss majority verses minority government; second, I will discuss the number of relevant parties; third, I will discuss the level of party discipline with the parties.

In Presidential systems of government, the level of support for the president in congress, either through a majority or coalitions, influences the success of the regime to get things done. The amount of parties in a system indicates the likelihood the president will have a majority or be forced to focus on forming coalitions. The latter can cause a weakening of the regime. The level of party discipline is created by the party rules within each system and creates different incentives for politicians either toward the people or the regime.
Majority verses Minority
In Brazil it is unlikely the President will possess a majority in the congress because Brazil is composed of many parties. The President must collaborate with other parties that are near by on the ideology/policy spectrum in order to form a majority. In the 1994 election, the winning coalition was comprised of more than six parties. The most popular party was the PSDB (Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy), 54.3%; the PT (The Worker's Party), 27%; the PRONA, 7.4%; the PMDB (Party of Brazilian Democratic Movement), 4.4%; The PDT (Democratic Labor Party), 3.2%; the PPR (Reformist Progressive Party), 2.8%; and others, 1%. These parties are not ideological similar. The parties cooperated o win the election. Many of the parties will not be represented on the cabinet or support the president in congress. As a result, these elections do not indicate whether or not the president will be supported in congress. The President has strong proactive powers to counter this weakness.
In Uruguay, the President has historically been supported by a substantial amount of congress rendering coalitions unnecessary. According to tale 11.1in Mainwaring and Shugart, the president in Uruguay has had an average of 45.6% of the seats in the Lower House and 43.8% of the seats in the upper house. This congressional composition is an ideal amount of support because it allows checks and balances to work; yet, the president can successfully implement a program. The last election in Uruguay did not yield this traditional composition. No party received a significant majority. The votes were split three ways between the Blanco, the Colorado, and the EP (Progressive Encounter). Whether or not this significant plurality trend will continue is unclear.
The president of Argentina has usually enjoyed a significant amount of support in congress from his/her own party and coalitions. Mainwaring and Shugart's table11.1 shows Argentina President to have an average support of 48.3%...

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