This article discusses the relationship between certain institutional regulations of voting rights and elections, different levels of electoral participation, and the degree of political instability in several Latin American political experiences. A formal model specifies the hypotheses that sudden enlargements of the electorate may provoke high levels of political instability, especially under plurality and other restrictive electoral rules, while gradual enlargements of the electorate may prevent much electoral and political innovation and help stability. Empirical data illustrate these hypotheses. A historical survey identifies different patterns of political instability and stability in different countries and periods, which can be compared with the adoption of different voting rights regulations and electoral rules either encouraging or depressing turnout.


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pp. 29-58
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2007
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