When democracy reemerged in much of Latin America in the 1990s, political parties lacked the prestige of earlier years, and their members displayed little of the idealism of the past. The continent’s Christian democratic parties were no exception, in that they were less ideologically committed than at the time of their founding and their reputations were stained by cases of corruption and pragmatic, self-serving agreements. The 2001 Chilean congressional elections, in which the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) was displaced as the nation’s largest party for the first time in nearly four decades, put in evidence this continent-wide trend. Paul Sigmund, in his chapter “The Transformation of Christian Democratic Ideology,” discusses the abandonment of the doctrine of a “third way” between liberal capitalism and socialism embraced by both the first generation of Christian democratic parties founded in the 1930s and 1940s and those founded after midcentury, which were generally located to...

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