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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Modes of Transition, Internal Party Rules, and Levels of Elite Continuity: A Comparison of the Spanish and Argentine Democracies


Through a comparative study of Spain (1977-1989) and Argentina (1983-95), this article argues that pacted transitions depress access to positions of political leadership vis-à-vis transitions by collapse, as the literature hypothesizes. It posits that successful pact making in Spain required disciplined political parties and encouraged the adoption of party rules that concentrated candidate selection in the hands of the national party leadership, which facilitated elite continuity. Without the constraints of pact making, the Argentine parties permitted a greater degree of regional-party and rank-and-file participation, and the representation of internal factions, thereby encouraging renovation. However, it concludes that higher continuity in Spain did not have a net negative effect on democratic consolidation; rather, the different modes of transition produced distinct challenges and hurdles.

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