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The Rise of Movement-Based Parties in Latin America: Lessons from the Bolivian MAS in Comparative Perspective



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In this presentation, Dr. Santiago Anria discusses one of the most puzzling developments in Latin America: the recent emergence and ascendance to power of movement-based parties that represent the interests of the politically and socially marginalized. The Bolivian MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) is one of the most successful of these parties, and one that stands out for its novelty and exception in both Bolivian and Latin American politics. It is novel due to its origins in the mobilization of indigenous social movements in Bolivia’s rural areas; and it is an exception due to its peculiar organizational attributes, which combine a dominant leadership with the bottom-up power from strong social movements. In this presentation, Anria discusses the empirical findings and arguments of his research in Bolivia, where he conducted extensive fieldwork that involved more than 150 interviews with political elites, as well as with leaders of social movements allied with the MAS. The story that emerges from the analysis is that the MAS does not operate under a purely bottom-up logic, but rather as a hybrid model that combines top-down leadership and significant opportunities for bottom-up influence and impact. Anria discusses how this has affected Bolivian politics, as well as its possible legacies in comparative perspective. *Note: this lecture was interactive and involves Q&A throughout it.

Anria is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Tulane University’s Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR). He has published articles and chapters on social movements, political parties, and democracy in Latin America. His current research examines the organizational attributes of movement-based parties and their interaction with different environments.

Image: Photograph of Bolivian mural reprinted with permission from Kelsey Ketcheson. This event is free and open to the public, and is co-sponsored by the UNM Department of Political Science and Tulane


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The Rise of Movement-Based Parties in Latin America: Lessons from the Bolivian MAS in Comparative Perspective