Whither the Colombian two-party system? An assessment of political reforms and their limits

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Recently, the Colombian party system has undergone dramatic change as 'new' political actors have become increasingly successful in national legislative elections. This paper conducts a two-fold analysis of changes in the Colombian party system. First, the study explores several factors, linked to electoral and registration reforms, which have led to the increased share of seats awarded to 'new' actors, from 1982 to 1998. Next, it examines the substantive effects of those changes for the kinds of policies and issues pursued by new and traditional parties in the national legislature. The findings suggest that in spite of notable changes that have lead to a proliferation of new actors, the Colombian political system has not been radically changed. In other words, it is not evident that reforms have produced truly distinct political alternatives in Colombia. I argue that this is largely a function of incomplete reforms that allowed for the 'legalization' of traditional party factions and the persistence of electoral incentives that do not encourage distinct forms of behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-509
Number of pages25
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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