The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Argentine Democracy

Argentine Democracy

The Politics of Institutional Weakness Edited by Steven Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo
  • Publish Date: 2/6/2006
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02715-9
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-02716-6

Hardcover Edition: $109.95Add to Cart

Paperback Edition: $33.95Add to Cart

“This volume represents a timely, valuable update on Argentina's democracy and its travails, leading up to the great crisis of 2001–2002. The editors and contributors do a nice job of bringing institutional theory to bear on a host of critical issues, and in doing so reveal just how varied Argentine political institutions are in their strength, endurance, and impact on political behavior. The book is also a reminder of how central politics is to the unfolding and potential resolution of crises that are too often visualized in solely economic terms.”
“This volume is a first-rate collection of original essays that help to explain Argentina's descent from neoliberal showcase to basket case. The contributors shed new light on the institutional frailties and deformities that undermine effective policy-making, distort political representation, and exacerbate the tensions between democracy and market reform. Rich in comparative and theoretical insights, this book is a must-read for students and scholars alike who are trying to understand why neoliberalism so often fails to live up to its hype in Latin America.”
“This book is a compendium of provocative, scholarly chapters that deepen our understanding of the continuing puzzles about Argentina: the failure to establish stable political institutions, the persistence and attraction of Peronism, the power of provincial political coalitions, and the enduring cycles of unfulfilled expectations. The book plumbs difficult theoretical and substantive challenges to Argentine democracy and opens up new ways of thinking about and researching its institutions, thus providing a stimulating teaching text.”
“A superb collection of essays by scholars on the cutting edge of comparative studies of Argentine politics. This book takes us past the usual hand-wringing about the 'enigmas' and 'paradoxes' of Argentine politics. Instead, it reveals, with stark analytical clarity, heretofore unobserved inner workings of Argentina’s complex institutional and coalitional anatomy. The theoretical breadth of the volume’s editors and contributors tell us much about the state of governance in turn of the century Latin American politics. The impressive empirical coverage makes this a groundbreaking study of Argentine politics that will shape research agendas for a long time to come.”
“On the whole, the volume is a welcome contribution to our understanding of Argentina. The collection of well-crafted essays should be read by anyone interested in the issues facing this troubled yet promising democracy. The book’s scope makes it a valuable addition to the scholarship on democratization not only in Argentina but across Latin America.”
“The book is a must-read for graduate students, scholars, and even policy-makers interested in Argentine politics, economic reform, political institutions and state-society relations. It provides empirically and theoretically rich studies of the institutional frailties of economic policy-making in Argentina during the 1990s, the pathologies of fiscal federalism, the influence of governors on national politics, the changing role of the judiciary, and the dynamics of social mobilization and protest.”

During the 1990s Argentina was the only country in Latin America to combine radical economic reform and full democracy. In 2001, however, the country fell into a deep political and economic crisis and was widely seen as a basket case. This book explores both developments, examining the links between the (real and apparent) successes of the 1990s and the 2001 collapse. Specific topics include economic policymaking and reform, executive-legislative relations, the judiciary, federalism, political parties and the party system, and new patterns of social protest.

Beyond its empirical analysis, the book contributes to several theoretical debates in comparative politics. Contemporary studies of political institutions focus almost exclusively on institutional design, neglecting issues of enforcement and stability. Yet a major problem in much of Latin America is that institutions of diverse types have often failed to take root.

Besides examining the effects of institutional weakness, the book also uses the Argentine case to shed light on four other areas of current debate: tensions between radical economic reform and democracy; political parties and contemporary crises of representation; links between subnational and national politics; and the transformation of state-society relations in the post-corporatist era.

Besides the editors, the contributors are Javier Auyero, Ernesto Calvo, Kent Eaton, Sebastián Etchemendy, Gretchen Helmke, Wonjae Hwang, Mark Jones, Enrique Peruzzotti, Pablo T. Spiller, Mariano Tommasi, and Juan Carlos Torre.

Steven Levitsky is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

María Victoria Murillo is Associate Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.





Steven Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo


1. Building Castles in the Sand?

The Politics of Institutional Weakness in Argentina

Steven Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo

2. The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A

Transaction Cost Approach and Its Application to Argentina

Pablo T. Spiller and Mariano Tommasi

3. Old Actors in New Markets: Transforming the

Populist/Industrial Coalition in Argentina, 1989–2001

Sebastián Etchemendy

4. Menem and the Governors: Intergovernmental

Relations in the 1990s

Kent Eaton


5. Provincial Party Bosses: Keystone of the Argentine Congress

Mark P. Jones and Wonjae Hwang

6. Enduring Uncertainty: Court-Executive Relations in Argentina During the 1990s and Beyond

Gretchen Helmke


7. Citizens Versus Political Class: The Crisis of Partisan Representation

Juan Carlos Torre

8. Crisis and Renovation: Institutional Weakness and the Transformation of Argentine Peronism, 1983–2003

Steven Levitsky

9. The New Iron Law of Argentine Politics? Partisanship,Clientelism, and Governability in Contemporary Argentina

Ernesto Calvo and María Victoria Murillo


10. Demanding Accountable Government: Citizens, Politicians,and the Perils of Representative Democracy in Argentina

Enrique Peruzzotti

11. Protest and Politics in Contemporary Argentina

Javier Auyero

Conclusion: Theorizing About Weak Institutions: Lessons From the Argentine Case

Steven Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo