Legitimising political party representation: Party law development in Latin America

Authors: Fransje Molenaar | Published in: International Political Science Review, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 324-338 | Date of publication: 2014


This study traces the development of party law from its first appearance in the early 20th century to its re-appearance in post-transitional Latin America and demonstrates how legislators frequently use party law to legally validate the participation of political parties in the electoral process. Through an analysis of instances of cartelising party laws and party deregulation, this article shows that the cartelising use of party law is often followed by a backlash when society and new elites contest parties’ monopolisation of representation. The legal validation of political parties is hence not sufficient for the legitimisation of the political status quo in terms of party. Instead, this article shows that elites that build their power merely on formal rules risk diminishing the political legitimacy of the system that these rules seek to uphold.

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