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The construction of the Political Participation inside Parties The Political Culture of the Chilean Socialist Party (PSCh) from Allende to Bachelet

Maria-Loreto Urbina
University of Nottingham
Maria-Loreto Urbina
University of Nottingham
Open Panel

Abstract

The concept of Political Culture has traditionally been used to analyse how context (macrofoundations) influences the conduct (microfoundations) of individuals who belong to nations or regions (Almond and Verba, 1965). This conceptualization of political culture could be used to analyse the development of political participation inside political parties, and the way is in which political parties adapt to their societal context as political organizations. The process of party adaptation changed the party’s political culture, and its political participation (e.g types of membership and leadership). The concept of political culture is not solely about political values, but it is also defined, in this paper, as a framework for collective action (Elkins, 1993) which influences the political participation inside political parties. Thus, political culture affects party strategies and influences the party’s position among the party system. This paper will focus on explaining how the political culture of the Chilean Socialist Party (PSCh) has been formed and influenced by societal context, resulting in a complex political institution which includes approaches from the Chilean Road to Socialism and Allende’s vision, to the Neoliberalism of the Concertacion. These approaches impacted on the development of PSCh as a political institution, on its definition as a political party, on the types of membership and leadership, and their participation in the party. Therefore, the PSCh political culture showed its capacity to adapt to its context by maintaining its vision, practices, and definition of socialism preceding the coup. The PSCH kept internal political practices from 1973, such as caciquistas power relationships, and the development of internal factions and their links to strong internal leadership. The diversity of approaches in the PSCh political culture is due to the multiclass background of the PSCh which has had an impact on its strategies. For example, throw the development of alliances strategies with the political centre (Radical party and Christian Democracy party-middles class parties) and with the left (Communist party-working class party). These characteristics have defined the PSCh as a party with great mobility, and they have allowed it to move from the left to the centre-left, and vice versa, according to the political context.