I am Vincent Mauro, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Cornell University. I study comparative politics and the politics of inequality.
My book project argues that democracy can certainly spark an impetus for redistribution, but representation – particularly in the developing world – is far from given, and redistributive outcomes across democracies are highly dependent on the development of party systems. In Latin America and across much of the democratic world, broader patterns of social reform, redistribution, and levels of inequality are highly contingent on both the structure and institutionalization of party systems. Utilizing cross-sectional time-series analysis, as well as two longitudinal cases of Brazil and Colombia based on extensive archival work, I find countries with stable multi-party systems are more likely to redistribute income, as well as possess lower levels of inequality, than those with inchoate, hegemonic, or two-party counterparts. Further information on a series of published articles related to this project can be found here.
Building on these ideas, another project investigates a corollary of how the emergence of new parties and party systems may produce reverberations on democratic rule. In highly unequal countries, political parties – particularly those that are a redistributive threat to elites’ interests – can actually pose democracy’s most dangerous threat. Where a new party with strong ties to the popular sectors emerges or a traditional party is captured by an upstart redistributivist or populist, Latin American democracies are unlikely to survive. To both build and test the theory, I rely on the historical analysis of deviant cases, elite survey experiments, and time-series analysis, to understand how in the last century a significant majority of Latin American democracies have fallen in the presence of, or immediately following the rise of, an emerging redistributive threat. More details on the first manuscript out of this project can be found here.
Lastly, I also am currently conducting a multi-faceted project with co-authors centered on understanding the political behavior of economic elites, particularly in respect to their perceptions of crime, democracy, political parties, and redistribution. In one of these projects, we conduct survey experiments on business elites in Mexico, finding that elites are more likely to view redistribution or the establishment of social programs favorably when primed to think about crime and insecurity. In another, we field a series of survey experiments designed to understand why many in the Brazilian business sector, which has been referred to as a “gatekeeper of democracy” for its pro-democratic political behavior in the past, politically supported Jair Bolsonaro – a candidate who explicitly expressed authoritarian views – in the 2018 election.