Limits to Campaign Expenses in Latin America, 2000-2012: Conditions for Adoption

Dr. Irma Mendez de Hoyos

Why do some countries limit campaign spending and others do not? Under which conditions they adopt spending caps? I argue that the introduction of limits to campaign expenses is related not only to the perception of corruption and inequality in party competition, as the main literature suggests, but also to actors’ political interest, in particular, Presidents’ intentions to remain in power or to obstruct opposition parties in a context of competitive politics. To test my argument, I analyse electoral laws of sixteen Latin American countries, examining the extent to which they set limits to campaign expenses. I then look at the political and institutional factors that best explain the adoption of limits to campaign spending. That is incumbent interest on re-election, a strong opposition or low levels of integrity on campaign finance. I develop a qualitative comparative analysis to find any causal combination of conditions that lead to explain the result.