Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type


First Advisor



This thesis explores factors that contribute to government responsiveness in Bolivia. It analyzes the question, under what conditions, if any, do political parties in developing democracies fulfill their mandates to the poor by increasing federal transfers? Evo Morales was elected with a sweeping mandate to change the historic exclusion of the poor and indigenous groups in Bolivia and increase spending to raise their quality of life, and his unique mandate provides a case study to answer this question. To provide background and present existing debates, theories of government responsiveness, the regional New Left political context, and the effect of the indigenous movement on Evo Morales‘ leadership were discussed. To test these theories, the core and swing voter theories and the participation and electoral theories of democratic responsiveness were analyzed. An original data set with social and financial data from Bolivian municipalities was used to run an OLS regression. The regression tests the relationship between the independent variable, vote share for Evo Morales, and the dependent variable, change in federal transfers to municipalities, to measure government responsiveness. Ultimately, the results support the participation and swing vote theories of government responsiveness. Municipalities with higher levels of participation and municipalities that did not support Evo Morales received increased average transfers. These findings present a new perspective on government responsiveness in Bolivia and apply to the broader study of government responsiveness in developing democracies.