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The Sources of Political Innovation

The Sources of Political Innovation

Habit, Experience, and Deliberation

(p.121) 4 The Sources of Political Innovation
Revolutionizing Repertoires
Robert S. Jansen
University of Chicago Press

This chapter excavates the sources of political innovation in the first few months of electoral campaigning in Peru’s 1931 election. At this critical moment, collective actors from across the political spectrum faced new challenges and opportunities, but they responded to these differently. Some continued to act in routine ways, while others began to cobble together novel packages of political practices. Through comparison of the initial actions of all major contenders, this chapter explains this variation. The explanation centers around an understanding of how these actors’ perceptions of the situation and of their practical strategic options were shaped by their previous experiences, worldviews, and habits of thought. Only the leadership of Luis M. Sánchez Cerro’s and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre’s embryonic parties (Unión Revolucionaria and APRA) experienced the moment as constituting a critical problem situation that required a break with previous routines and a creative turn toward new forms of action. As these leaders began to experiment with new practices, it was their previous experiences—filtered through deliberative environments that facilitated radical departures from the norm—that led their practices to take on the characteristics of what would become a distinctly Latin American style of populist mobilization.

Keywords:   APRA, Luis M. Sánchez Cerro, Peru, political innovation, political practice, populist mobilization, problem situation, Unión Revolucionaria, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre

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