Partisanship, Ideology, and Representation in Latin America

Aug 2014
This paper uses joint scaling methods and similar items from three large-scale surveys to place voters, parties and politicians from different Latin American countries on a common ideological space. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the findings reveal that the "median" voter in Latin America is located to the left of the ideological spectrum, and that voter's ideological locations are highly correlated with their partisan attachments. The location of parties and leaders suggests that three distinctive clusters exist: one located at the left of the political spectrum, another at the center, and a third to the right. The results also indicate that legislators in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru tend to be more "leftist" than their voters. The ideological drift, however, is not large enough to substantiate the claim that a representation gap exists in those countries.