Chapter 3: The Uruguayan path from particularism to universalism
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This chapter describes and analyzes the transformation of Uruguayan governance institutions with particular regard to corruption and particularism. Uruguay has substantively improved its levels of universalism since 2000. This improvement is due to a prolonged process of transformation in its politics from competitive particularism to an open-access regime. We claim that the change in the way that parties have competed for votes—from a clientelistic to a programmatic strategy—since 1985 is the cause of this transformation. An economic and fiscal crisis during the 1960s weakened the clientelistic strategy of the traditional parties and enabled the entrance of a new party that built its electoral support on programmatic claims instead of the distribution of clientelism. In that context clientelism became neither fiscally sustainable nor electorally effective. The traditional parties, after an authoritarian period, had to adapt to programmatic competition and leave aside clientelism. Institutional transformations regarding corruption are in this context the effects rather than the causes of universalism. Nevertheless, these new institutions are not irrelevant because they are functional to and help maintain the new political equilibrium. This study uses data from a variety of sources—ranging from official figures to public opinion and elite surveys or media reports—to provide descriptive evidence of the main features of this governance regime transformation, and proposes an analytic framework to explain it.

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