Photo: “Manifestação em frente ao Congresso Nacional“, by Senado Federal licensed under CC BY 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Rhodes-Purdy, Matthew. Regime support beyond the balance sheet: Participation and policy performance in Latin America. Cambridge University Press, 2017.


This book challenges the conventional wisdom that policy performance is the most important determinant of regime support. It does so by focusing on two countries where performance and support do not match. Chile is the economic envy of every country in Latin America, yet support has been surprisingly anemic. By contrast, Venezuela managed to maintain extremely high levels of support during the reign of Hugo Chávez despite severe failures of governance. Resolution of these paradoxes requires turning away from policy decisions and focusing instead on how those decisions are made. Taking inspiration from democratic theory and social psychology, this book argues that extensive opportunities for direct participation in the political process engenders in citizens strong feelings of efficacy – a sense of control over the course of politics. Rhodes-Purdy uses a mixed-methods approach to test this theory, including qualitative case studies, analysis of survey data, and experimental methods.

Table of contents

  • Conceptualizations and Existing Explanations of Regime Support
  • Participatory Opportunities, Efficacy, and Regime Support
  • Attitudinal Antecedents of Regime Support: A Statistical Analysis
  • Participatory Populism: Hegemony Self-Governance and Regime Support in Bolivarian Venezuela
  • The Other Liberalism: Laissez-Faire Protected Democracy and Support in Chile
  • Conclusion

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.