Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Political Science


Political Science

First Committee Member

John P. Tuman, Chair

Second Committee Member

Dennis Pirages

Third Committee Member

Tiffiany Howard

Graduate Faculty Representative

Tom Wright

Number of Pages



During the last decade, the left-turn, or pink tide, in Latin America has caused many scholars to seek to explain what has fueled the political gains of leftist parties in this region. One of the main challenges is to try and define what constitutes a leftist party or a left agenda. There is a wide spectrum when it comes to classifying left-right placement ideologies and the distinction may be based on both economic and social values' differences. This study will examine a number of competing theories concerning left-right placement of three case studies: Bolivia, Venezuela, and Colombia. These three case studies were chosen based on their current left-right ideological placement. My original intent was to have five countries that varied on the left-right spectrum but in the essence of time, three case studies were ultimately chosen. Brazil would have been a case study to analyze but the indigenous movement in Bolivia has made significant progress and I felt this case study was worth analyzing at a deeper level. Drawing upon data provided by the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and the case study literature, I examine the influence of socioeconomic and ethnic cleavages, economic ideology, and evaluations of economic performance.

I found all of the theories were supported by some of the statistical models; however, not all of the variables were applicable in each country case study. In the Bolivian model, most of the variables were significant in explaining left-right placement. The two key theories that were applicable in this case study was social structural cleavage theory, pertaining to the indigenous variable and social values theory (worker, church attendance, education, and income). For the Venezuelan model there were two variables that reflected to be significant (church attendance and age). Again, the social cleavage and values theory was pertinent to this case study. Lastly for the Colombian model, the four variables that were significant were public ownership, worker, secondary education, and age. The Social values theory was also pertinent in this case study. In addition, the case studies of Bolivia and Venezuela supported the economic voting theory and institutional decay by demonstrating when the right failed to produce economic benefits with the neoliberal agenda, the citizens were more in favor of voting in a left party regime.


Bolivia; Colombia; Latin America; Left-right placement; Right and left (Political science); Social values; Socialism; Socialist; Venezuela


Latin American Studies | Political Science

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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