The evolution of an emerging political party system: A study of party politics in the Dominican Republic, 1961-1990

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Ronald McDonald


Dominican Republic, Party politics, Elections, Redomocratization

Subject Categories

Political Science


The demise of authoritarian military regimes throughout Latin America has generated significant interest in the processes of systemic transformation and democratic consolidation. With the resurgence of party politics and elections, scholars have focused on the functions performed by political parties in facilitating the transition to democratic rule in societies undergoing profound change. The euphoria accompanying redemocratization has diminished somewhat, however, as the inability of popularly elected civilian leaders to ameliorate endemic problems and mollify increasingly mobilized populations has raised serious questions regarding the potential for further democratic consolidation.

Despite its relative obscurity, the Dominican Republic affords an excellent opportunity to examine the difficulties encountered in transitional societies seeking to institutionalize politics in a competitive, electoral framework. A modern multiparty system has taken form since the demise of the Trujillo dictatorship in 1961. Employing a multicausal approach drawing on prevailing theories of development, this study explores both the origins of the party system and factors which have conditioned its evolution. Analysis of the period 1962-1990 is highlighted, with electoral data and information gleaned from interviews with prominent political leaders and observers used to illuminate evolutionary patterns and address questions of broad theoretical interest.

While analysis of the Dominican experience reveals significant progress toward democratic institutionalization, obstacles remain. Traditional values have proven remarkably resilient, blending with emerging democratic perspectives to produce an embryonic party system operating on the basis of personalistic leadership and patron-client relations. Although this system has helped mitigate the impact of rapid modernization, party politics remains elite-dominated and exclusionary. The consequent failure of governmental policies to address popular concerns has precluded innovative solutions to endemic problems. With political evolution having become inextricably linked to popular perceptions of the quality of life provided by democratically elected leaders, this study concludes that only through more effective integration of the masses and the creation of a formula for development in which elite and mass interests are reconciled will democratic consolidation continue and yet another devolution into military authoritarianism be averted.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.