Party Identification in an Encapsulated Party System: The Case of Postauthoritarian Chile

Matías Andrés Bargsted, Luis Maldonado


Since the return of democracy, party identification has been declining sharply among the Chilean public. We seek to understand this process by applying an age-period-cohort analysis to survey data from 1994 to 2014. In light of the elite-driven and socially uprooted character, or what we call the encapsulated nature, of the Chilean party system, we hypothesize that cumulative electoral experience has had a negative effect on party identification and not the positive effect that Converse’s (1969) social-learning model would predict. Our findings support these expectations but also reveal large period effects that have shrunk the overall level of partisan identification and significant cohort effects whereby generations born after the 1950s have become less partisan. We also uncover important nuances that occur across the various mainstream political parties. We conclude that all three sources of social change are leading toward the extinction of mass partisanship from Chilean society.

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