Political Science Argentine Government and Politics
by
Juan Pablo Micozzi
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 September 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0278

Introduction

Even long before its last democratic restoration in 1983, Argentina has been a salient case for comparative political analyses. Several relevant concepts and events—such as the bureaucratic-authoritarian state and the presence of an impossible game developed by O’Donnell; the paradox of underdevelopment compared to Australia or Canada, as explained by Platt, Martin, and Di Tella; the emergence of a rara avis called Peronism in the work of Gino Germani and others; or the path of transition by collapse depicted by O’Donnell, Schmitter, and Whitehead—kept the profile of this country high in the consideration of academic scholarship. History helped to bring about this high profile in an undeniable manner. Within a century, Argentina hosted multiple military coups and further democratic restorations, successive calls for elections where the plurality party was banned from competition, an almost never-ending cycle of economic crises, and even a war against a NATO member that triggered the last return to democracy in 1983. Throughout the more than three straight decades of contemporary democracy, different dimensions of politics and government in Argentina have been analyzed by the literature. The complex interactions among actors and institutions in a country characterized by presidentialism, federalism, political mobilization, interruptions of executive mandates, a wide middle class, redistributive claims, a past of repression, and cyclical economic shocks, among others, forged substantive political dynamics. Most of these dimensions will be reviewed in this chapter, whose contributions have been published in the most relevant journals and presses, especially in the areas of institutions, subnational politics, and clientelism and patronage.

Institutions

Several diagnoses of the twisting performance of Argentine politics and economics have been centered on the weakness of its institutions. The argument is that rules are poorly enforced and lack cross-temporal stability, which inhibits long-term policies and creates incentives for actors to alter these rules permanently. Two books are forceful references that broadly cover most of the dimensions analyzed in this bibliography. On the one hand, Levitsky and Murillo 2005 highlights different areas affected by institutional weakness; on the other, Spiller and Tommasi 2007 offers the authors’ well-known theoretical explanation based on institutional weakness inhibiting long-term stability.

  • Levitsky, Steven, and María Victoria Murillo. Argentine Democracy: The Politics of Institutional Weakness. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.

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    Edited volume that compiles eleven contributions on dissimilar topics within the case such as representation, clientelism, economic reforms, and protests. The common component of the book is the realization that weak institutions are a central predictor of the chronic problems witnessed in the country.

  • Spiller, Pablo Tomás, and Mariano Tommasi. The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy in Argentina. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

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    The weak institutionalization of Argentina has a deep impact over public policies. As commitments are not temporally credible, actors tend not to cooperate in the implementation of long-term policies, which ends up in short-sighted behavior that produces very low-quality policies. Through an exhaustive analysis of the different factors involved in such bad equilibrium, the authors push for changes in the incentives to forge long-lasting cooperative behavior.

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