Bibliography on Party Politics in Ecuador, 1950-1962

James Johnson

The political parties of Ecuador largely have been ignored as foci for scholarly concern. This fact is symptomatic of the seeming lack of concern for Ecuadorian politics outside of Ecuador itself and the apparent belief by those who have studies Ecuadorian politics that the party system is not a variable of great importance. As evidenced in the bibliography that follows, there is no work in English (at least within the scope of our research to date) focusing specifically on the political parties of Ecuador. In fact, the amount of literature in English dealing with Ecuador during the period 1950-1962 is somewhat sparse. Two periods in recent Ecuadorian political history have received the greatest attention from American scholars: the period of the early 1950's, distinguished by the unique event of Galo Plaza's successful completion of his term as president of the republic, and the period from 1962-1965, with its return of the coup d'etat (or golpe de gobierno) as an instrument of political selection and the reappearance of the military as an active political force. Were it not for the singularity of the period of stability from 1948-1962 and the return of instability in 1962, this period of Ecuador's history may well have been another "forgotten era' in its political literature. Even so, a great deal of the information in English about Ecuadorian political parties had to be gleaned from news sources, area bulletins, and more or less popular periodicals (as opposed to academic journals) rather than from scholarly analyses.

Because of the incompleteness of the literature in English on Ecuadorian political parties, Spanish literature has been included in the bibliography. This material includes literature of widely divergent quality and usefulness, ranging from the only scholarly work on the political party system of Ecuador (by Dias), through speeches by party leaders and party platforms, to diatribes by political party leaders against opposition parties. In all, the literature in Spanish accounts for somewhat less than half (44%) of the pages in the Ecuador file.

Professor George I. Blanksten lent assistance to our bibliographic search by pointing out some bibliographies which had previously been overlooked and providing citations to several useful articles. Arnold Galvez, who has made several trips to Ecuador, assisted the search primarily by providing many of the party documents and speeches in Spanish that filled a large gap in the literature.

Material Processed Into ICPP Information Files

Our literature search disclosed 54 documents relevant to party politics in Ecuador during 1950-1962. A total of 936 pages were read and indexed from these documents. Reference to the table of indexing codes reveals the strengths and weaknesses of our processed information files.

The codes representing "party leaders" (360) and the "executive" (660), which appear on 199 and 100 pages respectively, together account for 16.4% of all codes assigned. The frequency of these codes reflects the importance given to personal leadership in the Ecuadorian political system.

While the reader can judge the usefulness of the material from the individual frequency counts in the table, a summary profile of the literature can be seen in the frequency distributions of codes combined into major categories. A great deal of the literature is concerned more with the general political and social systems of Ecuador than with the parties and the party system. More than one-third of all of the codes relate to the political, social, economic, and geographic environments (the 6-- and 7-- codes). Discussions of the "party system" (8--) account for only 12.1% of all the codes. Most of the discussion of specific parties refers to "party composition," "party goals," and "party activities." "Party organization" (4-- codes) and "party origin" (1-- codes) represent only 5.7% and 4.3% respectively of the codes. (It should be explained that the low frequency of 1-- codes may be a function of the fact that the four major Ecuadorian political parties-- Conservative, Liberal, Socialist, and Velasquist--were formed prior to the period of this study and hence are not as important as other indexing categories to discussions of the current party system.) Most slighted in the literature are the theoretical and propositional considerations regarding Ecuadorian parties. What material there is on Ecudaorian parties is very largely descriptive rather than analytical.

Some Observations on the State of the Literature

In summarizing the state of the literature on Ecuadorian political parties, we find from the table of indexing codes that little attention is devoted to the "study of parties" (0-- codes), "party origin" (1-- codes), and "party organization" (4-- codes). The last perhaps is the most serious gap for the student of political parties.

The second table summarizes the literature according to data quality codes used by the indexers. Here, the frequencies refer to entire documents rather than to pages of documents. As one can see, the material is by and large considered to be of only medium quality, citing no source of data, no theory, and no qualification.

The literature written in English on Ecuadorian political parties is primarily descriptive and often contains only passing references as brief background for discussions of other aspects of Ecuadorian politics (usually national leadership and the stability of the executive). While the executive may be the most important or the most interesting focus in Ecuadorian politics, the role of the party system, it seems, has been underplayed. If the parties are as unimportant and unstable as many authors imply, it would be worthwhile to know why.

The literature in Spanish deals more specifically with the parties. However, this is largely because the Spanish material includes party documents and speeches. Where analyses of the Ecuadorian party system do appear in Spanish, they are almost universally marked by the 19th Century style of academic tradition of Latin America which allows unsupported and undocumented material to pass as scholarly analysis. While short-comings do exist, the literature cited below, nevertheless, is the material confronting the scholar interested in the political parties in Ecuador.