Building a Party with Activists: The Case of the Uruguayan FA

An SNF Agora Case Study

A new political organization’s leaders must decide whether and how to share power with its grassroots activists. 

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This case study is about  the Frente Amplio (Broad Front, FA) in Uruguay, which began in 1971 as a coalition of 12 political groups that aimed to unify the political left and channel the political and social discontent that pervaded Uruguayan society. Alongside this coalition of party organizations, a movement of FA grassroots activists emerged autonomously in an explosion of bottom-up enthusiasm for the potential for a unified political left.

This case study is appropriate for:

  • College students
  • Grassroots activists
  • Organizational leaders

By the end of this case study, you should be able to:

  1. Learn about different modes of structuring national political organizations, and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
  2. Understand the dilemmas faced by political leaders who must decide between two competing goals of organizational development in a political organization’s early stages: the goal of giving grassroots activists sufficient influence in the organization’s decision-making and the goal of achieving and maintaining organizational discipline.
  3. Understand the crucial role that formal organizational rules play in the reproduction of activism.
  4. Appreciate the importance of relational environments for collective action.

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