Elite-Mass Congruence, Partidocracia and the Quality of Chilean Democracy

Peter M. Siavelis


Though Chile is often lauded for its successful democratic transition and high quality democracy, there are increasing levels of citizen dissatisfaction with the functioning of democracy. This article asks whether this dissatisfaction is due to the lack of congruence between political elites and the mass public with respect to their orientations on political and economic issues. It provides tentative support for the proposition that there is growing consensus between elites and the mass public with respect to the most im-portant issues. Rather than a lack of congruence between elites and the mass public, the paper suggests that the more likely source of citizen dissatisfaction is an emerging partidocracia (or a polity characterized by political party domination) which hampers the full functioning of democracy in terms of legitimacy, accountability and alternation of power. Because this domination has been produced by the interaction of an entrenched legislative election system and model of post-authoritarian partisan politics, it will be difficult to eliminate.

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