Fabián A. Borges, Neoliberalism with a Human Face? Ideology and the Diffusion of Latin America’s Conditional Cash Transfers
This article challenges the view that Latin America’s “left turn” was not associated with the adoption of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs. It is shown that the left initially opposed CCTs, but changed its view after Brazil’s center-left President “Lula” da Silva reluctantly embraced and adapted the CCTs he inherited to emphasize poverty reduction over building human capital. Only once this new model of CCT was developed did the left elsewhere in the region support and adopt CCTs. Thus, ideology did influence the spread of CCTs. Ideology’s impact was, however, conditional on the type of CCT being considered, and the diffusion of CCTs was mediated through ideology. This is supported by research on left-party attitudes, the design of ten programs, and three country case studies.
Sandra Botero, Judges, Litigants, and the Politics of Rights Enforcement in Argentina
Under what conditions can courts produce political and social change? My claim is that courts can be most consequential when they act in concert with other actors to create political spaces for ongoing discussion and engagement with regard to rights. In explaining judicial impact, I focus on the novel and understudied oversight mechanisms—like follow-up committees and public hearings—that some assertive high courts deploy to monitor adherence to some of their rulings. The analysis is based on comparative case studies of two landmark socioeconomic rights cases handed down by the Argentine Supreme Court. I show that the deployment of oversight mechanisms can create institutional spaces where the court, elected leaders, and private and civil society actors converge to generate change, resulting in greater impact.
Michael Wahman and Catherine Boone, Captured Countryside? Stability and Change in Sub-National Support for African Incumbent Parties
We analyze geographic dimensions of African voting to suggest that the salience of previous explanations of vote choice, including clientelism, performance evaluation, and local strong-arming varies across different types of constituencies. Analysis of Government-to-Opposition Swing (GOS) voting in seven countries over time reveals that GOS varies not only across the urban-rural divide but also across different types of rural constituencies. While GOS is uncommon in rural parts of the president’s home region, we discover significant variation across other types of rural constituencies: GOS is most likely in densely-populated rural constituencies and less likely in sparsely-populated rural constituencies that are often among the poorest in the country. We infer that political and economic geography shapes prospects for autonomous vote choice, performance voting, and quality of democracy.
Catherine Lena Kelly, Party Proliferation and Trajectories of Opposition: Comparative Analysis from Senegal
Over thirty years after Africa’s “democratic experiments,” the number of registered political parties in many countries continues to multiply, and few such parties oppose incumbents throughout a presidency. These patterns challenge theories predicting that parties with poor electoral performance will disappear and that many remaining parties will rival those in government by staying outside of the president’s electoral coalitions. Analysis of original data from elite interviews and archival research in Senegal shows that on an uneven playing field, most party leaders are primarily concerned with negotiating patronage; few are regular vote-seekers and fewer consistently oppose the ruling party in elections. Party leaders rely on personal resources for party-building and rarely possess the endowments that facilitate consistent opposition: experience as state administrators and international private financing.
Natalie Wenzell Letsa and Martha Wilfahrt, Popular Support for Democracy in Autocratic Regimes: A Micro-Level Analysis of Preferences
Scholarly opinions diverge as to which citizens in autocratic regimes actually prefer democracy to the status quo. While some argue that citizens with higher levels of socioeconomic status are more likely to prefer democracy because they desire political equality, others argue that the poor should prefer democracy most because they will have more relative power to affect redistributive policies. Analyzing public opinion data for tens of thousands of respondents living in autocracies around the world, we show that all types of citizens in authoritarian countries—rich and poor alike—prefer democracy to autocratic rule. Drawing on two case studies, we also show that political and economic factors are more likely to mobilize different types of people to protest for democracy.
Frank C. Thames, The Electoral System and Women’s Legislative Underrepresentation in Post-Communist Ukraine
In comparison with the global average of democracies, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, remains well below average in terms of women’s legislative representation. This article attempts to explain Ukraine’s poor record by examining the impact of different electoral systems. Since the first post-Communist election in 1994, Ukraine has used three different electoral systems: majoritarian SMD, MMM, and closed-list PR. By examining the impact of these different systems on women’s representation, we can test for the effect of different institutions on representation while holding political culture constant. The empirical results find that PR systems consistently nominated and elected more women than did the SMD systems. In addition, there is little evidence of gender bias among voters against female candidates in either PR or SMD elections.
Sarah E. Parkinson and Sherry Zaks, Review Article, Militant and Rebel Organization(s)
An emerging trend in research on militant groups asks how structures, dynamics, and relationships within these organizations influence key wartime and postwar outcomes. While the analytical pivot toward organizations advances the field in essential ways, scholars still lack a unified conceptual approach to organization-centric analyses of militancy. This article distills four key dimensions for analysis from organizational sociology: roles, relations, behaviors, and goals. It then reviews four new works on militant organizations and outlines their place in this emergent research trajectory. These books, we argue, underscore how situating research at the organizational level sheds new light on political outcomes such as rebel resilience, social service provision, and deployment of violence. We then highlight two related and promising organizational research agendas for future studies.