Elite–Mass Congruence in Chile

  • Peter M. Siavelis


Chile is often lauded for its successful democratic transition and high-quality democracy. Nonetheless, increasingly the country’s traditional image as Latin America’s democratic poster child is being replaced by one of protest, conflict and corruption, suggesting for some that the country is experiencing a crisis of democracy. Student protests that began in 2006 have become a permanent fixture. Chile, long assumed to be among the cleanest countries in Latin America, now makes headlines with the emergence of scandal after scandal. There are increasing levels of citizen dissatisfaction with the functioning and quality of democracy in the country. Only 48.2 % of Chileans are bastante or muy satisfecho with democracy. Further, after more than two and a half decades of democracy, only 54 % think in all cases democracy is the best regime, and the number who think so has actually decreased since peaking after the return of democracy (UDP-IDRC 2014). Indeed, 22.7 % contended that in some circumstances an authoritarian regime is preferable and 14.7 % said it really did not matter. Though Chile is lauded by academics and analysts as a high-quality democracy, on several key indicators of mass public opinion other Latin American countries rank significantly higher, and some of Chile’s indicators are disturbing. For example, long known for high level of citizen identification with parties, Chile now ranks 25th out of 26 countries in levels of party identification, trailed only by Guatemala (LAPOP 2012; UDP-IDRC 2014).


Political Party Authoritarian Regime Party Identification Military Regime Social Provision 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Borzutzky, S. 2002. Vital connections: Politics, social security, and inequality in Chile. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  2. Borzutzky, S., C. Sanhueza, and K. Sehnbruch. 2014. Reducing poverty: Real or rhetorical success. In Democratic Chile: The politics and policies of a historic coalition, 1990–2010, ed. K. Sehnbruch, and P. Siavelis, 243–262. Denver: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Incorporated.Google Scholar
  3. Centro de Estudios Públicos. 1990. Estudio social y de opinión pública. Chile: Santiago.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2007. Documento de Trabajo: Estudio Nacional de Opinión Pública No. 56. Santiago: Centro de Estudios Públicos.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2011. Estudio nacional de opinión pública, junio-julio 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2011, from
  6. ———. 2015. Estudio nacional de opinión pública, abril 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015, from
  7. Dalton, R.J., D.M. Farrell, and I. McAllister. 2011. Political parties and democratic linkage: How parties organize democracy. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Drake, P.W., and I. Jaksic (ed). 1999. El modelo chileno: Democracia y desarrollo en los noventa. Santiago: LOM Ediciones.Google Scholar
  9. Flanagan, S.C. 1982. Changing values in advanced industrial societies Inglehart’s silent revolution from the perspective of Japanese findings. Comparative Political Studies 14(4): 403–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garretón, M.A. 1989. The Chilean political process. Boston: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  11. Inglehart, R. 1977. The silent revolution. Changing values and political styles among Western. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 1997. Modernization and postmodernization: Cultural, economic, and political change in 43 societies, vol 19. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kitschelt, H. 1999. Post-communist party systems: Competition, representation, and inter-party cooperation. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. LAPOP. 2012. The AmericasBarometer by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), Latin American political opinion project.
  15. Luna, J.P., and E.J. Zechmeister. 2005. Political representation in Latin America: A study of Elite-Mass congruence in nine countries. Comparative Political Studies 38(4): 388–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mainwaring, S., and M. Torcal. 2003. The political recrafting of social bases of party competition: Chile, 1973–95. British Journal of Political Science 33: 55–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Munck, G.L., and J.A. Bosworth. 1998. Patterns of representation and competition parties and democracy in post-Pinochet Chile. Party Politics 4(4): 471–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Otero, P., and Rodriquez-Zepeda, J. 2010. Measuring representation in Latin America: A study of the ideological congruence between parties and voters. Paper presented at the Apsa 2010 Annual Meeting Paper.Google Scholar
  19. Pitkin, H. 1967. The concept of representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  20. PNUD, P. d. N. U. p. e. D. 2014. Auditoría a la Democracia: Más y mejor democracia para un Chile inclusivo. Santiago: PNUD.Google Scholar
  21. Powell, G.B. 2004. Political representation in comparative politics. Annual Review of Political Science 7: 273–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pribble, J., and Huber, E. 2013. In The Resurgence of the Latin American Left, edited by Steven Levitsky and Kenneth M. Roberts, Social policy and redistribution: Chile and Uruguay. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. 117–38.Google Scholar
  23. Rueschemeyer, D., E.H. Stephens, and J.D. Stephens. 1992. Capitalist development and democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  24. Sartori, G. 1976. Parties and party systems: A framework for analysis, vol 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Scully, T.R., and S. Valenzuela. 1997. Electoral choices and the party system in Chile: Continuities and changes at the recovery of democracy. Comparative Politics 29(4): 511–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sehnbruch, K., and P. Siavelis (ed). 2014. Democratic Chile: The politics and policies of an historic coalition, 1990–2010. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  27. Siavelis, P.M. 2006. Party and social structure. Handbook of party politics: 359–370.Google Scholar
  28. Siavelis, P. 2009. Elite-Mass congruence, partidocracia and the quality of Chilean democracy. Journal of Politics in Latin Amerca 3: 3–32.Google Scholar
  29. UDP-IDRC. 2014. A Crisis of Legitimacy: Challenges to the Political Order in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. UDP IDRC A crisis of legitimacy: Challenges to the political order in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Santiago: Universidad Diego Portales.Google Scholar
  30. Valenzuela, A. 1978. The breakdown of democratic regimes: Chile. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Siavelis
    • 1
  1. 1.Wake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

Personalised recommendations