What is the effect of slavery on long-run party system development in the Americas? Recent research has examined these issues in the United States by focusing on contemporary white attitudes. However, relatively little research has considered the comparative generalizability of this agenda. In this article, we explore the impact of the intensity of slavery on political behavior in Colombia, a relatively stable democracy during the 20th century, with a de facto two-party system. We find that places where enslaved Africans were a larger proportion of the population in 1843 show higher levels of support for the Liberal Party. These results are robust to different specifications and strategies to identify the effect of slavery and are consistent across a different set of elections that span the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. We further explore and test two mechanisms related to the strength of the colonial state and the development of a party stronghold in areas with slavery. To complement the argument, we explore the contemporary partisan alliances of different ethnic groups in Colombia and show that the initial affiliation between liberals and black communities remained stable over time.
Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 3 Special Issue - Slavery and Its Legacies: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.