An early power-sharing regime: The alternativa system in spanish colonial america

Daniel Schwartz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The alternativa system in Spanish American religious orders was an early example of deliberate electoral engineering to address the problem of social division. It was subject to criticism, however, for stealing voters’ freedom, ignoring the rights of candidates, and restricting access to competent officeholders. Moreover, it often gave disproportionate power to a minority faction. Hence, the alternativa remained, at best, an expedient, short-term solution to the problem of factionalism. Examining the canonists’ debate about the alternativa is instructive because it reveals the darker moral side of power-sharing regimes whenever and wherever they occur.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)383-400
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Interdisciplinary History
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Inc.


Dive into the research topics of 'An early power-sharing regime: The alternativa system in spanish colonial america'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this