The Phenomenon of Puerto Rican Voting / Edition 1

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"This book will be useful to political scientists, political sociologists, and scholars of Latino and Puerto Rican studies. . . . [It makes] a contribution to voting studies while dispelling one of the most damaging myths about Puerto Ricans in the U.S. as well--namely, that their low level of electoral participation is a function of their culture."--Jose E. Cruz, State University of New York, Albany
Puerto Ricans participate in elections at a far higher rate than voters in the United States, even though their election systems are similar. Why? Timely and intriguing, this study compares factors affecting voter turnout in both countries, offering lessons for political mobilization in the United States.

Puerto Rico has virtually the same voting institutions as the United States; furthermore, most of the island's constitutional and legal arrangements are hostile to voting turnout. Yet voting behavior in Puerto Rico is radically different from its mainland counterpart.

Combining both quantitative and qualitative analysis of data from the 1952-2000 electoral period, the author uncovers two important electoral differences that explain this bewildering phenomenon: the way political parties operate and the way people get involved in politics. He shows that Puerto Rican parties are stronger and more disciplined than American parties, with roots that go deeper into society. In addition, he says, "Puerto Rican culture apparently relates to elections with more passion and devotion than American culture. The campaign environment is much more 'carnivalesque' and festive than in the United States, thus adding to voting mobilization." His study casts doubts on the influence of some institutional and legal arrangements on voting turnout, and it highlights the importance of political parties and mobilization.

On a note of caution, he points out that voter participation in Puerto Rico has steadily decreased since 1976.  This trend debunks some of the myths about the island’s voting turnout rate and could force Puerto Ricans to reevaluate their electoral system. He also predicts that the high level of electoral involvement of Puerto Rico may be coming to an end.

Both accessible and complex, the book will be of interest to the general public and political analysts; it will also be valuable to scholars studying voter turnout, Puerto Rican politics, or the politics of Puerto Ricans and other Latinos living on the U.S. mainland.

Luis Raul Camara Fuertes is assistant professor of political science at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813027197
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Series: New Directions in Puerto Rican Studies Series
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Table of Contents

List of tables
List of figures
Introduction : the puzzle of Puerto Rican voting 1
1 Puerto Rican voting turnout in comparative perspective 9
2 Institutional and legal components of the vote 26
3 To vote or not to vote : individual determinants of the vote 48
4 Mobilization and culture 86
Conclusion : why Puerto Ricans vote, and a look into the future 113
Notes 123
Bibliography 129
Index 139
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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2005

    Was about time!

    After listening for years the so-called Puerto Rican 'pundits', it was about time that Prof. Camara finally published his groundbreaking book on Puerto Rican politics. Dr. Camara explains the phenomenon of Puerto Rican electoral participation comparing it to its closest [comparable] electoral system (USA). At the same time, given Puerto Rico's duality as a US territory and a Latin American culture, compares the system and the results with other world democracies. While Puerto Rican voting behavior is a phenomenon in US terms, it is hardly unique in the world (thus refuting the 'pundits'). The research is methodogically sound, and a great update to his dissertation work. If you want to understand Puerto Rican (Island) politics in a scientific should start here.

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