Suffrage Extensions and Voting Patterns in Latin America: Is Mobilization a Source of Decay?



This article examines whether changes in electoral participation contributed to electoral volatility in Latin America between 1945 and 2000. As a result of literacy voting requirements and authoritarian interludes that disenfranchised large portions of the population, new voters in Latin America probably had different political interests from the previous electorate and were not socialized to electoral politics. The article considers the hypothesis that the inclusion of new voters with different interests produces an immediate, short-term change in aggregate voting patterns, and a lack of socialization of new voters generates lingering instability in electoral behavior. Accounting for confounding factors, the analysis of legislative elections in 12 countries indicates that the expansion of the electorate temporarily disrupted voting patterns in Latin America but did not lead to long-run party system decay.