Using Kenneth Roberts’ (2002) party-society linkages framework, this study examined the reasons for the decline of the political party system in Bolivia after 2000. The political party system that emerged in 1985 was connected to society primarily through clientelist-based linkages. The economic and political model adopted after the transition to democracy severely debilitated the party system’s capacity to forge linkages with society beyond clientelism.
Using interviews, survey data, and primary and secondary documents, the study demonstrated that prolonged economic recession and social change revealed the weaknesses of the linkages connecting the political party system with Bolivian society. It concluded that the party system in Bolivia went into decline because it could not adapt to the country’s changing social landscape after 2000. The highly limited nature of clientelist-based linkages in Bolivia suggests that they were ill-suited to withstand economic recession and social crisis.