In This Review

Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America
Building Democratic Institutions: Party Systems in Latin America
Edited by Scott Mainwaring and Timothy R. Scully
Stanford University Press, 1995, 578 pp

Overall, this is the best book now available on a central component of Latin American democracy. Given the discipline's abysmal record at prediction and the time lag in scholarly production, the appearance of a weighty tome of this type always carries the risk of becoming an epitaph rather than a harbinger. In this comprehensive volume, which engages many of the leading lights of the field, Mainwaring and Scully, Notre Dame professors and fellows of its increasingly influential Kellogg Institute, begin with the assumption that "institutionalizing a party system is important to the process of democratic consolidation." This was not a commonly held view a few years back when structuralism and determinism colored assessments of representative bodies. Solid chapters cover the major countries, with notable contributions by Mainwaring on Brazil, and Ann Craig and Wayne Cornelius on the somewhat anomalous case of Mexico, where the task of democratization involves deinstitutionalizing the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Political science eventually does catch up with political reality, it seems.