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Party Politics in New Democracies$
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Paul Webb and Stephen White

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289653

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289653.001.0001

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Political Parties in Costa Rica

Political Parties in Costa Rica

Democratic Stability and Party System Change in a Latin American Context

Chapter:
(p.305) 11 Political Parties in Costa Rica
Source:
Party Politics in New Democracies
Author(s):

John A. Booth

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289653.003.0011

Arising from the 1948 Costa Rican civil war, a multiparty system developed in Costa Rica under a social democratic National Liberation Party (PLN) that dominated the polity for decades. Small conservative opposition parties coalesced to win the presidency upon occasion. These merged into the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), which challenged the PLN for dominance within the system in the 1990s. Under stresses imposed by neo-liberalism, the Costa Rican party system destabilized in the early 2000s. This chapter traces the evolving system, examines the parties in presidential and legislative elections over time, and discusses citizen electoral participation. It examines major parties' social bases and their evolving legitimacy, organization, membership, recruitment, financing, factionalism, and interest articulation. It describes the impact for the party system of the rise of media-dominated retail electoral politics, depersonalization partisan politics, and the adoption of primary elections. The PLN stumbled badly in the elections of 1998 and especially 2002, but rallied while the PUSC — plagued by scandals in two administrations — effectively collapsed in the 2006 election. Trends suggest increasing instability and volatility of the system.

Keywords:   Costa Rican civil war, National Liberation Party, Social Christian Unity Party, neoliberalism, legitimacy, retail politics, party system volatility

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