Type of Document Dissertation Author Allison, Michael E. URN etd-04102006-183220 Title Leaving the Past Behind? A Study of the FMLN and URNG Transitions to Political Parties Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Political Science, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Paul Hensel Committee Chair Andrew Opel Committee Member Damarys Canache Committee Member Jeffrey Staton Committee Member Will Moore Committee Member Keywords
- Political Parties
- El Salvador
Date of Defense 2006-03-21 Availability unrestricted AbstractThis project focuses on the aftermath of civil war. Leaving the Past Behind? A Study of the URNG and FMLN Transitions to Political Parties asks a fundamental question related to the transition of insurgent groups to political parties that has not yet been investigated. Namely, how can we account for the success or failure of former insurgent groups as political parties? I argue that certain insurgent groups are more likely to succeed as political parties as a result of a variety of organizational factors (size, prior political party experience, contacts with mass-based organizations, internal unity, control of territory, and minimal violence committed against civilians) and environmental conditions (electoral rules, other political parties, voters, economic crises, and social cleavages).
To test these hypotheses, I combine qualitative and quantitative analyses of two Central American insurgent groups currently undergoing such transitions: the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador and the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unit (URNG) in Guatemala. First, I conduct a structured, focused comparison of the FMLN and URNG and their transitions to political parties. Second, I conduct a number of statistical analyses utilizing electoral results, political violence and socio-economic data to determine whether the explanations also hold for within nation analyses. Finally, I pursue the generalizability of the findings through a limited comparison of similar insurgent transitions in Mozambique and Colombia.
Findings from my research suggest that the FMLN drew upon previous experience with electoral politics both prior to and during the war, an extensive urban and rural network of combatants, and a nationwide organization of noncombatants to succeed in postwar electoral politics. On the other hand, the URNG had no prior experience with electoral politics, a weak organizational structure with few noncombatant support personnel, and limited geographic scope. While institutional factors played a marginal role in effecting the electoral performance of each group, it was the FMLN’s experience and organization as an insurgent group that explains its superior performance relative to the URNG.
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