This is a preprint version. The up-to-date version is currently under peer review to be published in an academic journal. An early version was presented at the 113th APSA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, August-September 2017.
The objective of this paper is to contribute to expand the research on party organizations to a region that has been hitherto mostly ignored by the comparative literature. We analyze 30 parties in three Latin American countries – Brazil, Mexico and Chile - based on variables proposed by the Political Party Database Project (PPDB), and we compare their performance in key indicators (money, members and intraparty democracy) with the initial findings of the project. So far, the literature has taken for granted that Latin American parties are organizationally weak, even without systematic comparative analysis. We propose the ‘proof of the pudding’ for the first time. In order to test the relative strength of Latin American parties, we compare them with parties in other third or fourth-wave democracies, but also with parties in advanced democracies. Altogether, we employ a database with 152 parties in 22 countries. The findings indicate that the major difference between Latin American parties and PPDB round 1 parties is about the income; but they compensate the lack of money with the mass mobilization. According to the Party Strength Index (PSI), parties in Brazil and Chile are organizationally weaker than those of consolidated democracies. However, due to the greater capacity for mass mobilization, Latin American parties are stronger than Eastern European parties. Overall, the most significant differences are between ‘new’ and ‘old’ democracies, not between Latin American countries and the others. This is an important finding, suggesting that parties in the region are comparable to the ‘usual suspects’.