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CLASSIFYING POLITICAL REGIMES IN LATIN AMERICA, 1945–1999 Scott Mainwaring, Daniel Brinks, and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán Working Paper #280 – September 2000

CLASSIFYING POLITICAL REGIMES IN LATIN AMERICA, 1945–1999 Scott Mainwaring, Daniel Brinks, and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán Working Paper #280 – September 2000

Scott Mainwaring, Eugene Conley Professor of Government and former chair of the Departmentof Government and International Studies, is Director of the Kellogg Institute. His most recently published book is Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave: The Case of Brazil (Stanford University Press, 1999). Daniel Brinks and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán are doctoral candidates in the Department of Government and International studies at the University of Notre Dame. We thank David Collier, CarolineDomingo, Frances Hagopian, Charles Kenney, Steven Levitsky, Gerardo Munck, and Guillermo O’Donnell for helpful comments. Claudia Baez Camargo, Carlos Guevara Mann, Andrés Mejía, and Carlo Nasi provided suggestions for our regime classifications.

CLASSIFYING POLITICAL REGIMES IN LATIN AMERICA, 1945–1999 Scott Mainwaring, Daniel Brinks, and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán Working Paper #280 – 2000

ScottMainwaring, Eugene Conley Professor of Government and former chair of the Department of Government and International Studies, is Director of the Kellogg Institute. His most recently published book is Rethinking Party Systems in the Third Wave: The Case of Brazil (Stanford University Press, 1999). Daniel Brinks and Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, are doctoral candidates in the Department of Government andInternatioanl Studies at the University of Notre Dame. We thank David Collier, Frances Hagopian, Charles Kenney, Steven Levitsky, Gerardo Munck, and Guillermo O’Donnell for helpful comments. Claudia Baez Camargo, Carlos Guevara Mann, Andrés Mejia, and Carlo Nasi provided suggestions for our regime classifications.

ABSTRACT This paper is about two related subjects: how to classify political regimes ingeneral, and how Latin American regimes should be classified for the 1945–99 period. We make five general claims about regime classification. First, regime classification should rest on sound concepts and definitions. Second, it should be based on explicit and sensible coding and aggregation rules. Third, it necessarily involves some subjective judgments. Fourth, the debate about dichotomousversus continuous measures of democracy creates a false dilemma. Neither democratic theory, nor coding requirements, nor the reality underlying democratic practice compel either a dichotomous or a continuous approach in all cases. Fifth, dichotomous measures of democracy fail to capture intermediate regime types, obscuring variation that is essential for studying political regimes. This generaldiscussion provides the grounding for our trichotomous ordinal scale, which codes regimes as democratic, semidemocratic, or authoritarian in nineteen Latin American countries from 1945 to 1999. Our trichotomous classification achieves greater differentiation than dichotomous classifications and yet avoids the need for massive information that a very fine-grained measure would require.

RESUMEN Esteartículo trata dos temas relacionados: cómo clasificar los regímenes políticos en general y cómo deben ser clasificados los regímenes latinoamericanos en el período 1945–1999. Formulamos cinco argumentos generales sobre la clasificación de regímenes. Primero: la clasificación de regímenes debe apoyarse en definiciones y conceptos razonables. Segundo: dicha clasificación debe estar basada en reglas decodificación y agregación explícitas y sensatas. Tercero: la clasificación de regímenes políticos entraña algunos juicios subjetivos. Cuarto: el debate que contrapone medidas dicotómicas y medidas continuas de la democracia crea un falso dilema. Ni la teoría democrática, ni los requisitos de codificación, ni la realidad que subyace a la práctica democrática obliga a una aproximación dicotómica...
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