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Looking back from 2018, Bulgaria has turned into a country substantially different from the Soviet satellite it was in 1989. Today, the country is a member both of NATO and of the European Union, and it has a stable democracy and a functioning market economy. The authors explore Bulgaria’s transition to democracy, democracy-building through party transformation, and institutional changes. The chapter follows up on the birth and development of civil society and the challenges to media freedom. Bulgaria’s transformation went through the process of dismantling of the pre-1990 one-party state and the establishment of a multiparty democracy, liberal society, and a market economy while the state gradually adopted European norms, policies, and practices. The text opens up for discussion current political issues such as the safeguarding of minority and refugee rights, the fight against corruption and organized crime, and the inequitable distribution of the country’s wealth. The biggest concern in the social and political landscape recently is the decreasing fairness of the electoral process. Heavy social dependencies and insufficient incomes in the country are consciously sustained by the political elites to facilitate their maintenance of incumbency. Nevertheless, Bulgaria has not seen any of the violent conflicts that have afflicted the rest of Southeastern Europe.
Why do citizens elect political actors who have perpetrated violence against the civilian population? Despite their use of atrocities, political parties with deep roots in the belligerent organizations of the past win postwar democratic elections in countries around the world. This article uses new, cross-national data on postwar elections globally between 1970 and 2010, as well as voting, survey, archival, and interview data from El Salvador. It finds that belligerents’ varied electoral success after wars can be explained not by their wartime levels of violence or use of electoral coercion, but by the distribution of military power at the end of conflict. It argues that militarily stronger belligerents are able to claim credit for peace, which translates into a reputation for competence on the provision of security. This enables them to own the security valence issue, which tends to crosscut cleavages, and to appeal to swing voters. The stronger belligerents’ provision of security serves to offset and justify their use of atrocities, rendering their election rational. This article sheds light on political life after episodes of violence. It also contributes to understanding security voting and offers insights into why people vote in seemingly counterintuitive ways.
This article argues that post-conflict consociational arrangements in ethnically divided societies incentivize moderation by political parties, but not policy differentiation outside the main conflict. This results in little policy-driven voting. Analysing party manifestos and voter survey data, we examine the evolution of party policy and cleavage voting under power-sharing in Northern Ireland 1998–2016. We find a reduction in ethno-national policy differences between parties and that ethno-nationalism has become less important in predicting vote choice for Protestants, but not Catholics. We also find little party differentiation in other policy areas and show that vote choices are largely independent of people's policy stances on economic or social issues. Our findings are thus largely consistent with a ‘top-down’ interpretation of political dynamics.
How politically powerful is business in American politics? Does the political power of business distort the quality of democratic representation? This chapter reviews the literature on these vital questions, discussing selected studies in political science, sociology, history, and other fields. It finds that assessments of business influence in American politics have varied considerably over time, but it also observes there has been a broad turn in recent scholarship toward the notion that business is “more equal” than other groups in the American political system. A small but growing number of studies—especially studies focusing on politics in our time—has begun to provide credible evidence of business influence. We have also seen the introduction of some exciting new ideas about the ways that business influence, economic inequality, and political representation may be theoretically connected. But definitive conclusions remain elusive. We do not really know whether business is disproportionately powerful and how business influence affects the performance of American democracy. The chapter concludes with some suggestions about the kind of studies that are needed going forward.
Today’s parties are hollow parties, neither organizationally robust beyond their roles raising money nor meaningfully felt as a real, tangible presence in the lives of voters or in the work of engaged activists. The parties have become tarred with elements of polarization that the public most dislikes—from the screaming antagonism to the grubby money chase. More than any positive affinity or party spirit, fear and loathing of the other side fuels parties and structures politics for most voters. Party identification drives American politics—but party loyalty, in the older sense of the term, has atrophied. Even the activists who do so much to shape modern politics typically labor outside of the parties, drawn to ideologically tinged “para-party” groups such as MoveOn.org on the left or the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity on the right. The parties offer clear choices but get no credit. Our new Party Period features a nationalized clash of ideology and interests but parties that are weakly legitimized and hollowed out.
This article asks why some Indian districts experience chronic Maoist violence while others do not. The answer helps to explain India’s Maoist civil war, which is the product of the accumulation of violence in a few districts, as well as to generate a new hypothesis about the causes of civil war more generally. The authors argue that, other things equal, the emergence of subaltern-led parties at the critical juncture before armed organizations enter crowds them out: the stronger the presence of subaltern-led political parties in a district at this juncture, the lower the likelihood of experiencing chronic armed violence subsequently. They develop their argument through field research and test its main prediction using an original, district-level data set on subaltern incorporation and Maoist violence in India between 1967 and 2008. The article contributes a new, party-based explanation to the literatures on both civil war and Maoist violence in India. It also introduces new district-level data on the Maoist movement and on the incorporation of subaltern ethnic groups by political parties in India.
In July 2010, following a year-long nationwide debate over Islamic veiling, the French government passed a law prohibiting facial coverings in all public spaces. Prior research attributes this and other restrictive laws to France's republican secular tradition. This article takes a different approach. Building on literature that sees electoral politics as a site for articulating, rather than merely reflecting, social identities, I argue that the 2010 ban arose in significant part out of political parties’ struggles to demarcate the boundaries of legitimate politics in the face of an ultra-right electoral threat. Specifically, I show that in seeking to prevent the ultra-right National Front party from monopolizing the religious signs issue, France's major right and left parties agreed to portray republicanism as requiring the exclusion of face veiling from public space. Because it was forged in conflict, however, the consensus thus generated is highly fractured and unstable. It conceals ongoing conflict, both between and within political parties, over the precise meaning(s) of French republican nationhood. The findings thus underscore the relationship between boundary-drawing in the political sphere and the process of demarcating the cultural and political boundaries of nationhood in contexts of immigrant diversity.
The article analyses the interplay between agency problems at various stages in the parliamentary chain of delegation and external constraints related to corporatist negotiations in Norwegian agricultural policymaking. The combination of minority government and MPs tending to have more extreme preferences than the voters, and corporatist integration of specialized interests, may lead to an accumulation of agency costs. However, the study shows that we need to specify carefully the conditions under which this will occur. The article is based on official policy documents and a survey of citizens.
This article reviews books which test the personalization of politics, looking at different dimensions of the growing importance of leaders over time, namely for political parties, in electoral behaviour and in the media. Only recently have wide-ranging comparative longitudinal studies on leaders been carried out. The personalization thesis is not equally demonstrated across all dimensions. Indeed, we find something of a puzzle: There is no strong trend towards personalization of party organizations, whereas in electoral behaviour the evidence points to the increasing use by voters of leaders as heuristics. This attests to the decline of the importance of parties. The personalization of media may be the mechanism which explains the change in voting behaviour, and the third and final section of the review looks into that arena. We conclude with some suggestions on further research on the personalization of politics.
Few scholars have taught us more about African voters, legislators, and legislatures than Joel Barkan. Drawing on Barkan’s analysis, the first part of this article argues that the African one-party state can be usefully viewed as a competitive-authoritarian system underpinned by a form of political linkage that allows for elements of coercion and competition. Building on this framework, the second part demonstrates that the political linkage structures that emerged in single-party systems such as those of Kenya, Senegal, and Tanzania have played an important role in shaping the dynamics of multiparty politics and the prospects for democratic reform.
This article examines the behavior of Greek political parties before, as well as during, the recent austerity period. Drawing on coalition oversight and blame avoidance literature, it argues that the unpopularity of austerity governments leads to extreme levels of dissent within the coalition. I operationalize this ‘intra-coalition opposition’ behavior using parliamentary questions, a legislative institution that has not been studied in the context of coalition politics. The analysis demonstrates that junior members in unpopular austerity governments increase their use of parliamentary questions to a degree that matches or even exceeds the formal opposition. However, intra-coalition dissent is conditional on the type of unpopular government policies, and on the ideology of coalition members. Specifically, using a new method of text analysis, I show that while the socialist Panhellenic Socialist Movement uses its parliamentary questions to avoid or minimize the blame associated with austerity policies, the conservative New Democracy does not, because left-leaning parties are electorally vulnerable to austerity measures. The results have implications for studying dissent in coalition politics in general, and the politics of austerity in particular.
Political parties matter for government outcomes. Despite this general finding for political science research, recent work on public policy and agenda-setting has found just the opposite; parties generally do not matter when it comes to explaining government attention. While the common explanation for this finding is that issue attention is different than the location of policy, this explanation has never truly been tested. Through the use of data on nearly 65 years of UK Acts of Parliament, this paper presents a detailed investigation of the effect parties have on issue attention in UK Acts of Parliament. It demonstrates that elections alone do not explain changes in the distribution of policies across issues. Instead, the parties’ organizations, responses to economic conditions, and size of the parliamentary delegation influence the stability of issue attention following a party transition.
Radical left parties (RLP) have been significant actors in many Western European party systems since the expansion of mass democracy. In some cases, they have been very relevant forces in terms of popular support. Despite this fact, they have not received a great deal of attention in past decades from a comparative perspective. Through examination of the role of an important set of factors, this article provides, for the first time, a cross-national empirical account of the variation in voting for RLPs across Western Europe, based on individual-level data. It evaluates the effect of key socio-demographic and attitudinal individual-level variables on the RLP vote. The findings point to the continuing relevance of some social and political factors traditionally associated with votes for RLPs, and to the relevance of attitudinal variables.
In this article I analyze the extent and causes of party system fragmentation in Indonesia's provincial and district parliaments. Focusing on the results of the first three post-Suharto elections in 1999, 2004, and 2009, I first highlight that local-level fragmentation is not only generally higher than national-level fragmentation but also that it has consistently increased over the three elections and that fragmentation has been particularly high in Eastern Indonesia. I then explain these three trends as a result of three main factors: First, electoral institutions applied between 1999 and 2009 facilitated fragmentation and poor party system institutionalization, mainly due to the introduction of an open list system in 2009 and the absence of a parliamentary threshold at the local level. Second, low levels of party institutionalization progressively individualized local party politics and made it normal for candidates to switch to smaller parties if it suited their interests, thereby exacerbating fragmentation. Third, electoral campaigning for local parliaments has been dominated by traditional methods based on personal relationships and networks rather than lavish public relations campaigns with expensive TV ads, further reinforcing the effects of the first two factors.
To what extent and in what way does European integration fuel state restructuring? This is a long-standing but still not a fully answered question. While the theoretical literature suggests a positive link between the two, previous empirical studies have reached contrasting conclusions. The article offers an alternative testing of the proposition, centred on the role of party strategies as a causal mechanism, analysed across space and time. On the cross-sectional axis, it focusses on parties in Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium), Lombardy and Sicily (Italy), Catalonia and Andalusia (Spain), and Scotland and Wales (United Kingdom). On the cross-temporal axis, it focuses on four critical junctures connecting integration and state restructuring. It analyses the degree to which ‘Europe’ has been strategically used in connection to state restructuring and which conditions have been necessary and/or sufficient to that outcome. The analysis has been conducted on the basis of a Qualitative Comparative Analysis methodology. Five main results emerge: (1) overall, parties have generally exploited ‘Europe’ in connection with state restructuring to a limited extent only but in a few cases exploitation has been very intense and intimately linked to strategic turning points; (2) ‘Europe’ has overwhelmingly been used to support state restructuring; (3) the most intense use has been made by regional parties with a secessionist position and positive attitude to the EU; (4) ‘use of Europe’ is a product of a complex conjunctural effect of several conditions; (5) it has increased over time but is not a linear product of integration, a sharp drop can be observed between the two most recent time points. These findings show that European integration can indeed exercise causal influence upon state restructuring via party strategies but that this is highly contingent on the complex interaction of multiple factors.
In this paper, we propose a new measure of party system nationalization based on a minimalist definition of the phenomenon. A perfectly nationalized party system is a party system with only national parties or, in other words, without sub-national parties. Instead of the homogeneity of parties’ vote shares or the number of parties throughout the country, our measure captures the aspirations of parties to be national whose proxy is the proportion of districts (weighted by seats) that a party runs a candidate. The measure is compared with existing indicators through a longitudinal analysis of 256 elections in 18 Western European countries from 1945 to 1998.
This article supplements and further develops the almost exclusively American literature on the determinants of negative campaigning by analyzing the tone of the Danish parties’ election campaigns. It concludes that proximity to governmental power matters, as oppositional parties are more negative than incumbents. This is comparable to the American experiences. The prospect of electoral failure, however, does not affect the tone the same way as poor poll standings do in the US. Moreover, it is suggested that future studies of negativity might consider how different party organizations affect the campaign tone; at least this study finds indications that parties with large proportions of party identifiers are slightly more negative than other parties. Finally, it is found that parties campaign differently in different channels of communication; that is, they are generally more negative in channels that allow direct interaction among politicians. This finding poses the question whether some channels are better empirical sources for studies of negativity than others, which is addressed in the closing section of the article.
Relying on social choice theory, this paper argues that uncertainty regarding future public policies is likely to be related to party institutionalization and legislative organization. The argument is evaluated using survey data from businesses in eight EU member states in East Central Europe. It finds that firms report lower concern over policy uncertainty in systems with higher party institutionalization. There is also some evidence, although less robust, that restrictive parliamentary agenda control leads to lower perceptions of policy uncertainty and this effect mediates the influence of party institutionalization. These results tend to hold if one controls for the effect of other national and firm-level factors.