Political Environments, Sector-Specific Configurations, and Strategic Devices: Understanding Institutional Reform in Uruguay

Mar 1999
This paper argues for a multi-level explanatory model for understanding institutional reform. Using the case of Uruguay, the authors seek to show how a changed political environment combined with sector- specific configurations and political strategies of reformist leaders allowed for successful institutional reform. More specifically, the authors present that the dynamics of electoral politics and political learning are the clues that explain how the dynamics of cooperation and conflict in the political system in Uruguay moved from free rider behavior, to opposition restraint and finally to cooperative reformism thus enabling institutional reform. Furthermore, for the three cases of reform, technical accumulation and precise diagnosis, the power of administrative and beneficiaries corporations, the perception of the population regarding the quality of services and benefits, and the effects of the institutional diseases on the country as a whole appear as critical factors accounting for the intensity of the reformist impulse. Finally, the authors show how changes in the broad political environment were capitalized in social security and education and not in health and why.