The Formation of National Party Systems: Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States [NOOK Book]

Overview

Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman rely on historical data spanning back to the eighteenth century from Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States to revise our understanding of why a country's party system consists of national or regional parties. They demonstrate that the party systems in these four countries have been shaped by the authority granted to different levels of government. Departing from the conventional focus on social divisions or electoral rules in determining whether a party system will ...

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The Formation of National Party Systems: Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States

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Overview

Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman rely on historical data spanning back to the eighteenth century from Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States to revise our understanding of why a country's party system consists of national or regional parties. They demonstrate that the party systems in these four countries have been shaped by the authority granted to different levels of government. Departing from the conventional focus on social divisions or electoral rules in determining whether a party system will consist of national or regional parties, they argue instead that national party systems emerge when economic and political power resides with the national government. Regional parties thrive when authority in a nation-state rests with provincial or state governments. The success of political parties therefore depends on which level of government voters credit for policy outcomes. National political parties win votes during periods when political and economic authority rests with the national government, and lose votes to regional and provincial parties when political or economic authority gravitates to lower levels of government.

This is the first book to establish a link between federalism and the formation of national or regional party systems in a comparative context. It places contemporary party politics in the four examined countries in historical and comparative perspectives, and provides a compelling account of long-term changes in these countries. For example, the authors discover a surprising level of voting for minor parties in the United States before the 1930s. This calls into question the widespread notion that the United States has always had a two-party system. In fact, only recently has the two-party system become predominant.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
In this comprehensive book Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman examine in detail and over long historical periods four countries that use the same electoral system but have had differing party systems, both comparatively and historically. Their central argument is that party systems are more aggregated, that is, more national . . . where economic and political power rests with the national government.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2005 Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award, Division of Political Organizations and Parties of the American Political Science Association

Runner-Up for the 2005 Gregory Luebbert Book Award, Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

"In this comprehensive book Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman examine in detail and over long historical periods four countries that use the same electoral system but have had differing party systems, both comparatively and historically. Their central argument is that party systems are more aggregated, that is, more national . . . where economic and political power rests with the national government."Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400826377
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 272
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Pradeep Chhibber is Associate Professor of Political Science and Indo-American Community Chair in India Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of "Democracy without Associations" (Michigan). Ken Kollman is Associate Professor of Political Science and Research Associate Professor in the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan. He is the author of "Outside Lobbying" (Princeton).
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The Formation of National Party Systems

Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States
By Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman

Princeton University Press

Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0691119325


Chapter One

INTRODUCTION

THE SAME POLITICAL PARTIES dominate contemporary American politics at the national level and in nearly every state. Despite a few well-publicized independent candidates and politicians and, in recent years, a smattering of celebrities from the Reform Party or Independent Party, such as Ross Perot, Patrick Buchanan, and Jesse Ventura, the Democratic and Republican parties control congressional delegations from all the states, majorities in the state legislatures, and governorships in all but a few states.1 Since the early twentieth century, the United States has displayed a pattern of virtually complete two-partism-that is, two national parties compete and win seats in every major region in the nation. Two-partism, however, has not always been characteristic of the United States, at least not for congressional and state elections. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, electoral support was spread across more than two parties, and some parties were competitive only in a few states. In certain regions, such as the South from the 1890s to the 1970s, one party predominated for long periods.

Compared with the contemporary era in the United States when two major parties compete and win seats in every major region in the nation, the 1850s marked a more highly regionalized, fractious, and turbulent decade in American party politics. After the collapse of the Whig Party early in the decade and subsequent attempts by various competitors to win cross-regional support, it was not clear whether another national party would emerge to compete with the Democrats for control of the national government. For a time the Know-Nothings, a shadowy political group dedicated to anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic principles, sought to be that party. But the Know-Nothings foundered by mid-decade, not only because their northern and southern factions split over the slavery issue but also because they could not agree on a national policy program to deal with issues that were essentially local in American society to that time: regulation of liquor, authorizations for Catholic schools, and legal tolerance of immigrant laborers (Gienapp 1987). Because these issues were addressed either by state or local governments, party politics for several elections was characterized by electoral competition among state-level or regional parties.

By creating an intraparty consensus around a national policy program opposing the expansion of slavery into new territories, the Republicans ultimately forged a national party. Republican leaders came to recognize that electoral success required presenting to the electorate national policy solutions to the great questions of the age. As a result, the young party won the presidency and dominated the congressional elections in 1860. It was a humiliating loss for the Democrats and for the political leaders in the South, leading to southern secession and civil war.2 In the 1990s politicians and voters in India and Canada faced difficulties in forming national coalitions not unlike those of nineteenth-century Americans. Numerous political parties fielded candidates in India, but in 2002 none had been able to craft a national majority to replace the Congress Party, which had lost its dominant status in the late 1980s. As of this writing, only two parties since 1991 have contested for national power, the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. Neither party, however, has been successful in articulating a national policy program that unites disparate regional factions within its party or absorbs enough regional or state parties to form a winning national party. And neither party can overcome the most difficult obstacle to national power-namely, the perception that the delivery of public goods and services such as electricity and clean water are the perview of state governments.

Canadian voters faced a loss of a national opposition to the Liberals in the 1990s. The Conservatives went from the position of majority party in one election to a party with only three seats in the House of Commons after the 1993 elections. By the turn of the millennium, few could predict which party, if any, would coordinate enough voters across the provinces to provide a serious challenge to the Liberals for national control. Ideological and regional divisions among former Conservative voters prevented them from rallying behind a single national leader or party label, and attempts to build national coalitions by other parties of the right such as Reform and Alliance parties foundered. As a result, for the first time since World War II, a Canadian prime minister, Jean Chrétien from the Liberal Party, won a third consecutive parliamentary majority in 2000.

In Britain, two national parties competed to form majorities in the House of Commons for much of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, unlike the situation in the United States, there has nearly always been the persistent presence of a third party, which draws a substantial share of the vote away from Labour and the Conservatives. At times, it was the Liberals or the Social Democrats. Today, it is the Liberal Democrats. In Britain, minor party strength has fluctuated. During World War I, for example, British politics was in dramatic flux, and as many as five parties won at least ten seats to the House of Commons in 1918.

The current U.S. phenomenon of two national parties competing everywhere in the country does not exist in Canada, Great Britain, and India, even though they share many of the same electoral rules. Two-partism did not even exist in previous eras in the United States, although its electoral rules have stayed relatively constant. In the three other countries, the national legislatures seat politicians from parties that are strong only in particular provinces, regions, and states. In Canada and India, provincial and state politics are often dominated by parties that have little or no national standing. In contemporary Britain, after the 1997 devolution and creation of independent assemblies in regions, regional political parties such as Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationals have gained prominence.

Modern American two-partism not only looks unusual in comparison with party politics in other countries with similar electoral laws but also when compared with party politics in other eras in American history. Why is it that two national parties dominate the American political landscape in modern times? And why does this pattern not exist in other countries such as Canada, Great Britain, and India? In this book we seek to explain not only such differences across these countries but also to explain within each country why and when national parties emerged and why regional parties have drawn significant vote shares.

We show that, although these four countries have similar electoral systems-single-member, simple-plurality voting systems for the lower houses of parliament-party systems vary not only across these countries but also over time within these countries. Using historical data, we attribute changes in the party systems in these nations to the changing role of the state. In particular, we examine the relationship between the national (federal) and provincial (state) governments. Our claim that the nature of federalism influences the dynamics and stability of a party system differs from previous party system theories that stress the significance of social cleavages, electoral laws, and other constitutional features.

PARTY SYSTEM CHANGE IN CANADA, GREAT BRITAIN, INDIA, AND THE UNITED STATES

Political parties and party systems are vital to the functioning of modern democratic politics. We define a political party in this book as a group of candidates running for election under the same label. (We acknowledge, though, that parties accomplish far more than that. A more extensive discussion appears in chapter 3.) Parties provide a means to organize and coordinate voters, candidates, political donors, legislators, executives, and interest groups around common goals.

A party system is an enduring pattern of electoral competition between parties for public office. There are marked differences in party systems across countries, including the number of parties that compete regularly at the national and lower levels, the stability of the governing coalitions and opposition, the durability of party loyalties within electorates, and the frequency of new-party formation.

Our primary interest in this book is the formation of national party systems. We define a national party system as one in which the same parties compete at different levels of vote aggregation. In practice, this means that party systems at the constituency level, or at the state or provincial levels, look similar to national party systems. Our understanding of the nationalization of party systems is similar to that of Carmani (2000; 2004), Cox (1999), and Jones and Mainwaring (2003). According to Jones and Mainwaring (2003, 140), a party system is "highly nationalized... [when] the major parties' respective vote shares do not differ much from one province to the next. In a weakly nationalized party system, the major parties' vote shares vary widely across provinces."

One widely studied component of party systems is the number of parties. The number of parties contesting seats in lower-house elections in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States has differed over time. In Britain, for example, twelve parties won seats to the House of Commons, and five parties won at least ten seats each in the 1918 elections. In 1992, five parties won seats, and three parties won at least ten seats. For elections to the Canadian House of Commons, the number of parties winning more than 10 percent of the national vote has fluctuated from as low as two (in 1925, for example) to as high as four in 1979 and 1993, while the number of parties seated in Parliament has ranged from two to as high as twelve.

In most political systems with free and fair elections, there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of parties competing in elections, most of which have little or no bearing on governments and policy outcomes. There are often hundreds of independent candidates who avoid party labels altogether. This is especially true for single-member district systems such as in the four countries examined here. In the United States, for example, the Prohibition Party ran candidates in hundreds of districts across the country from the 1870s to the 1950s. For a thirty-year stretch, from the 1880s to the 1910s, it won between 0.5 and 3.0 percent of the national vote in congressional elections, and fielded candidates in approximately half of the nation's congressional districts, although it never elected a single member to Congress. While still fielding hundreds of candidates into the 1950s, it won no more than 0.5 percent of the national vote in any decade after the 1910s. And this is a party that actually may have had some bearing on national policy during its peak in the early part of the twentieth century, especially in pressuring the major parties to adopt the policy goal of prohibition.3 Far more numerous, and less consequential, are the candidates who have run under obscure or humorous labels, such as the Umoja Party, the Miller High Life Party, or the Politicians Are Crooks Party, to give some examples from congressional elections in recent years.

Similar examples exist in most countries, and as these parties have little bearing on either the vote share of major parties or who governs, political scientists do not simply count the number of parties that contest elections as indicative of how many parties are competitive in a party system. Instead, political scientists use measures that calculate how many parties actually influence political outcomes. The most commonly used measure is Laakso and Taagepera's (1979) "effective number of parties" index, or N, which gives increasing weight to parties that get higher proportions of the vote. The formula is the inverse of the sum of the squared proportions of the vote or of the seats. For n parties receiving votes, and for pi representing the proportion of popular votes received by party i,

If one is using votes to calculate proportions, as we do throughout this book, when 2 parties share 98 percent of the vote equally between them, and 100 tiny parties win the remaining 2 percent, the measure will be very close to 2. When 2 parties each win 44 percent of the vote and a third party wins 12 percent of the vote, however, the measure will be close to 2.5.4

Figures 1.1-1.4 show the fluctuations in the effective number of national parties competing in national lower-house elections in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States. First notice the United States in Figure 1.4. Prior to the New Deal, and most certainly throughout the nineteenth century, more than 2 parties regularly won substantial portions of the vote in elections to the House of Representatives. In Canada (Figure 1.1) the effective number of parties getting votes in national elections was 3.5 in the first national elections held in 1867. In 1917 only 2 parties competed in elections for the lower house, whereas in 1995 the effective number of parties getting votes was approximately 4. In India (Figure 1.3) the number of parties competing in national elections also has fluctuated, although there has been a steady increase since the 1970s with the effective number of parties rising from 3 in 1977 to almost 7 for the 1996 and 1999 elections. In Britain (Figure 1.2) the effective number of parties receiving votes in 1885 (after the Second Reform Act and the adoption of single-member districts for much of Britain) was 2.17, increasing to 4.43 in 1918, and then settling to about 2.5 for much of postwar period before rising above 3 in the 1990s.

There are also significant differences across the countries in the number of parties. The United States has had the fewest number of parties in the contemporary period, although in the first half of the nineteenth century the party system in the United States resembled party systems in the other countries. India and Canada have more parties on average than either the United States or Great Britain. India in recent decades has had an unusually large number of parties receiving votes for the Lok Sabha (the lower house).

The fact that these countries have not experienced consistent two-partism at the national level represents a departure from well-known assertions made about the number of parties in countries with single-member district systems. Duverger ([1954] 1963) wrote that countries with single-member districts tend to have two dominant national parties, and a large volume of literature has followed his original book. All four of these countries had single-member, simple-plurality electoral systems for lower-house elections during the periods represented in Figures 1.1-1.4.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix
Acknowledgments xiii
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: Electoral Competition at the Constituency Level 28
CHAPTER THREE: Party Aggregation 61
CHAPTER FOUR: From Local Notables to Party Competition 81
CHAPTER FIVE: Centralization and Provincialization 101
CHAPTER SIX: Dynamics of Party Aggregation 161
CHAPTER SEVEN: Party Aggregation in Four Countries 180
CHAPTER EIGHT: Conclusion 222
Appendix 239
Bibliography 243
Index 269
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First Chapter

The Formation of National Party Systems:
Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States

Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman

Chapter 1

INTRODUCTION

THE SAME POLITICAL PARTIES dominate contemporary American politics at the national level and in nearly every state. Despite a few well-publicized independent candidates and politicians and, in recent years, a smattering of celebrities from the Reform Party or Independent Party, such as Ross Perot, Patrick Buchanan, and Jesse Ventura, the Democratic and Republican parties control congressional delegations from all the states, majorities in the state legislatures, and governorships in all but a few states.1 Since the early twentieth century, the United States has displayed a pattern of virtually complete two-partism--that is, two national parties compete and win seats in every major region in the nation. Two-partism, however, has not always been characteristic of the United States, at least not for congressional and state elections. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, electoral support was spread across more than two parties, and some parties were competitive only in a few states. In certain regions, such as the South from the 1890s to the 1970s, one party predominated for long periods.

Compared with the contemporary era in the United States when two major parties compete and win seats in every major region in the nation, the 1850s marked a more highly regionalized, fractious, and turbulent decade in American party politics. After the collapse of the Whig Party early in the decade and subsequent attempts by various competitors to wincross-regional support, it was not clear whether another national party would emerge to compete with the Democrats for control of the national government. For a time the Know-Nothings, a shadowy political group dedicated to anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic principles, sought to be that party. But the Know-Nothings foundered by mid-decade, not only because their northern and southern factions split over the slavery issue but also because they could not agree on a national policy program to deal with issues that were essentially local in American society to that time: regulation of liquor, authorizations for Catholic schools, and legal tolerance of immigrant laborers (Gienapp 1987). Because these issues were addressed either by state or local governments, party politics for several elections was characterized by electoral competition among state-level or regional parties.

By creating an intraparty consensus around a national policy program opposing the expansion of slavery into new territories, the Republicans ultimately forged a national party. Republican leaders came to recognize that electoral success required presenting to the electorate national policy solutions to the great questions of the age. As a result, the young party won the presidency and dominated the congressional elections in 1860. It was a humiliating loss for the Democrats and for the political leaders in the South, leading to southern secession and civil war.2 In the 1990s politicians and voters in India and Canada faced difficulties in forming national coalitions not unlike those of nineteenth-century Americans. Numerous political parties fielded candidates in India, but in 2002 none had been able to craft a national majority to replace the Congress Party, which had lost its dominant status in the late 1980s. As of this writing, only two parties since 1991 have contested for national power, the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. Neither party, however, has been successful in articulating a national policy program that unites disparate regional factions within its party or absorbs enough regional or state parties to form a winning national party. And neither party can overcome the most difficult obstacle to national power--namely, the perception that the delivery of public goods and services such as electricity and clean water are the perview of state governments.

Canadian voters faced a loss of a national opposition to the Liberals in the 1990s. The Conservatives went from the position of majority party in one election to a party with only three seats in the House of Commons after the 1993 elections. By the turn of the millennium, few could predict which party, if any, would coordinate enough voters across the provinces to provide a serious challenge to the Liberals for national control. Ideological and regional divisions among former Conservative voters prevented them from rallying behind a single national leader or party label, and attempts to build national coalitions by other parties of the right such as Reform and Alliance parties foundered. As a result, for the first time since World War II, a Canadian prime minister, Jean Chrétien from the Liberal Party, won a third consecutive parliamentary majority in 2000.

In Britain, two national parties competed to form majorities in the House of Commons for much of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, unlike the situation in the United States, there has nearly always been the persistent presence of a third party, which draws a substantial share of the vote away from Labour and the Conservatives. At times, it was the Liberals or the Social Democrats. Today, it is the Liberal Democrats. In Britain, minor party strength has fluctuated. During World War I, for example, British politics was in dramatic flux, and as many as five parties won at least ten seats to the House of Commons in 1918.

The current U.S. phenomenon of two national parties competing everywhere in the country does not exist in Canada, Great Britain, and India, even though they share many of the same electoral rules. Two-partism did not even exist in previous eras in the United States, although its electoral rules have stayed relatively constant. In the three other countries, the national legislatures seat politicians from parties that are strong only in particular provinces, regions, and states. In Canada and India, provincial and state politics are often dominated by parties that have little or no national standing. In contemporary Britain, after the 1997 devolution and creation of independent assemblies in regions, regional political parties such as Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationals have gained prominence.

Modern American two-partism not only looks unusual in comparison with party politics in other countries with similar electoral laws but also when compared with party politics in other eras in American history. Why is it that two national parties dominate the American political landscape in modern times? And why does this pattern not exist in other countries such as Canada, Great Britain, and India? In this book we seek to explain not only such differences across these countries but also to explain within each country why and when national parties emerged and why regional parties have drawn significant vote shares.

We show that, although these four countries have similar electoral systems--single-member, simple-plurality voting systems for the lower houses of parliament--party systems vary not only across these countries but also over time within these countries. Using historical data, we attribute changes in the party systems in these nations to the changing role of the state. In particular, we examine the relationship between the national (federal) and provincial (state) governments. Our claim that the nature of federalism influences the dynamics and stability of a party system differs from previous party system theories that stress the significance of social cleavages, electoral laws, and other constitutional features.

PARTY SYSTEM CHANGE IN CANADA, GREAT BRITAIN, INDIA, AND THE UNITED STATES

Political parties and party systems are vital to the functioning of modern democratic politics. We define a political party in this book as a group of candidates running for election under the same label. (We acknowledge, though, that parties accomplish far more than that. A more extensive discussion appears in chapter 3.) Parties provide a means to organize and coordinate voters, candidates, political donors, legislators, executives, and interest groups around common goals.

A party system is an enduring pattern of electoral competition between parties for public office. There are marked differences in party systems across countries, including the number of parties that compete regularly at the national and lower levels, the stability of the governing coalitions and opposition, the durability of party loyalties within electorates, and the frequency of new-party formation.

Our primary interest in this book is the formation of national party systems. We define a national party system as one in which the same parties compete at different levels of vote aggregation. In practice, this means that party systems at the constituency level, or at the state or provincial levels, look similar to national party systems. Our understanding of the nationalization of party systems is similar to that of Carmani (2000; 2004), Cox (1999), and Jones and Mainwaring (2003). According to Jones and Mainwaring (2003, 140), a party system is "highly nationalized . . . [when] the major parties' respective vote shares do not differ much from one province to the next. In a weakly nationalized party system, the major parties' vote shares vary widely across provinces."

One widely studied component of party systems is the number of parties. The number of parties contesting seats in lower-house elections in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States has differed over time. In Britain, for example, twelve parties won seats to the House of Commons, and five parties won at least ten seats each in the 1918 elections. In 1992, five parties won seats, and three parties won at least ten seats. For elections to the Canadian House of Commons, the number of parties winning more than 10 percent of the national vote has fluctuated from as low as two (in 1925, for example) to as high as four in 1979 and 1993, while the number of parties seated in Parliament has ranged from two to as high as twelve.

In most political systems with free and fair elections, there can be dozens, if not hundreds, of parties competing in elections, most of which have little or no bearing on governments and policy outcomes. There are often hundreds of independent candidates who avoid party labels altogether. This is especially true for single-member district systems such as in the four countries examined here. In the United States, for example, the Prohibition Party ran candidates in hundreds of districts across the country from the 1870s to the 1950s. For a thirty-year stretch, from the 1880s to the 1910s, it won between 0.5 and 3.0 percent of the national vote in congressional elections, and fielded candidates in approximately half of the nation's congressional districts, although it never elected a single member to Congress. While still fielding hundreds of candidates into the 1950s, it won no more than 0.5 percent of the national vote in any decade after the 1910s. And this is a party that actually may have had some bearing on national policy during its peak in the early part of the twentieth century, especially in pressuring the major parties to adopt the policy goal of prohibition.3 Far more numerous, and less consequential, are the candidates who have run under obscure or humorous labels, such as the Umoja Party, the Miller High Life Party, or the Politicians Are Crooks Party, to give some examples from congressional elections in recent years.

Similar examples exist in most countries, and as these parties have little bearing on either the vote share of major parties or who governs, political scientists do not simply count the number of parties that contest elections as indicative of how many parties are competitive in a party system. Instead, political scientists use measures that calculate how many parties actually influence political outcomes. The most commonly used measure is Laakso and Taagepera's (1979) "effective number of parties" index, or N, which gives increasing weight to parties that get higher proportions of the vote. The formula is the inverse of the sum of the squared proportions of the vote or of the seats. For n parties receiving votes, and for pi representing the proportion of popular votes received by party i,

If one is using votes to calculate proportions, as we do throughout this book, when 2 parties share 98 percent of the vote equally between them, and 100 tiny parties win the remaining 2 percent, the measure will be very close to 2. When 2 parties each win 44 percent of the vote and a third party wins 12 percent of the vote, however, the measure will be close to 2.5.4

Figures 1.1-1.4 show the fluctuations in the effective number of national parties competing in national lower-house elections in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States. First notice the United States in Figure 1.4. Prior to the New Deal, and most certainly throughout the nineteenth century, more than 2 parties regularly won substantial portions of the vote in elections to the House of Representatives. In Canada (Figure 1.1) the effective number of parties getting votes in national elections was 3.5 in the first national elections held in 1867. In 1917 only 2 parties competed in elections for the lower house, whereas in 1995 the effective number of parties getting votes was approximately 4. In India (Figure 1.3) the number of parties competing in national elections also has fluctuated, although there has been a steady increase since the 1970s with the effective number of parties rising from 3 in 1977 to almost 7 for the 1996 and 1999 elections. In Britain (Figure 1.2) the effective number of parties receiving votes in 1885 (after the Second Reform Act and the adoption of single-member districts for much of Britain) was 2.17, increasing to 4.43 in 1918, and then settling to about 2.5 for much of postwar period before rising above 3 in the 1990s.

There are also significant differences across the countries in the number of parties. The United States has had the fewest number of parties in the contemporary period, although in the first half of the nineteenth century the party system in the United States resembled party systems in the other countries. India and Canada have more parties on average than either the United States or Great Britain. India in recent decades has had an unusually large number of parties receiving votes for the Lok Sabha (the lower house).

The fact that these countries have not experienced consistent two-partism at the national level represents a departure from well-known assertions made about the number of parties in countries with single-member district systems. Duverger ([1954] 1963) wrote that countries with single-member districts tend to have two dominant national parties, and a large volume of literature has followed his original book. All four of these countries had single-member, simple-plurality electoral systems for lower-house elections during the periods represented in Figures 1.1-1.4. Yet the effective number of parties has varied over time in each of these nations. Although many qualifications and addendums have been made to Duverger's "Law"--such as William Riker's (1982) revised version, which seeks to explain why Canada and India did not conform to the prediction of two-partism, or Sartori's (1976) version that links the number of serious competitors to the ideological differences among the major parties--none has explained successfully both the changes over time in the number of parties in such systems and the variation in the number of parties across these countries.

We show in chapter 2, however, that two-partism continues to be a robust phenomenon at the district or constituency level. If the effective number of national parties is considerably above 2 while the average effective number of district or constituency level parties is near 2--a common occurrence in these countries--it follows that the same parties do not compete across local levels. In recent elections in India, for example, the effective number of national parties has been near 7, while the average effective number of parties at the constituency level is much lower, near 2.5. This suggests that different parties are getting significant shares of votes across constituencies and that many parties get votes only in particular locales. By our definition of a national party system, the degree to which the gap between national and local party systems exists is the extent to which the party system deviates from a pure national party system.5

In the remainder of this book, we offer an explanation for when a national party system will be formed and detail conditions under which the party system may not be national. We also suggest reasons for why we do not find the same number of national parties across these countries. In the remainder of this introductory chapter, we discuss previous explanations for changes in party systems, provide an introduction to our explanation, and lay out the plan for the book. We also describe the electoral data we use.

APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF PARTIES AND PARTY SYSTEMS

Party systems have real consequences, affecting the quality and nature of democratic representation, economic policies, and the stability of governments and political systems.6 There is evidence, for example, that the number of parties in governing coalitions--which is related to the number of parties in the party system--affects the ability of governments to respond to economic shocks (Franzese 2002). Likewise, voter turnout across countries is positively correlated with various aspects of party systems, including the number of parties (Blais and Dobrzynska 1998). And some scholars have linked the success of regional parties to secessionist pressures (Filippov, Ordeshook, and Shvetsova 2004).

One could cite evidence that party systems are shaped to some extent by electoral systems and other features of governmental institutions and that the consequences of having national parties or a certain number of parties are not nearly as important as the consequences of having in place a parliamentary, majoritarian, or presidential system of government (see Powell 2000 for a summary of these arguments). In other words, party system differences could be merely epiphenomenal, reflecting other differences in institutions that are more important in determining political outcomes and policies.

We believe that it is valuable to study the causes and consequences of party system change because these changes are themselves consequential. Cross-national research on a variety of topics often includes the number of parties in the parliament--an imperfect measure of the nationalization of the party system in cross-national studies--as a proxy for the degree of difficulty in introducing significant policy change, and these variables often are statistically significant in predicting policy outcomes, even when controlling for whether the country has one chamber of the legislature or two, has an elected president, or is federal (Persson and Tabellini 2003).

Although national party systems may not be inherently more desirable than party systems with regional parties, we agree with Sartori (1976; 1986) that having national parties, as opposed to fragmented, localized parties, tends to channel the choices of voters and politicians into a smaller number of coalitions and to force governments to confront national-level problems. Few would deny, for example, that if recent Indian governments had consisted of single-party majorities, such as in Britain, economic reforms arguably necessary for development would be easier to pass into law. Instead, Indian policy making was hampered in the early years of the twenty-first century by the constant struggle by the prime minister to keep in place his governing coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which had well over a dozen parties (Bardhan 2002; Nayar 1999; Saez 2002).7 In contrast, it would have been very difficult for Tony Blair, as prime minister of Britain, to pursue reforms if he had not had a single-party majority but rather had had to contend with leaders of diverse leftist and center leftist parties to maintain a majority. Further, it is hard to disagree with Schattschneider's ([1960] 1975) view that national, organized political parties are the most important countervailing powers to wealthy special interests in modern democracies.

Because parties and party systems are so central to democratic politics, their features and behavior have been the subject of research across many subfields in political science, including the study of voting, elections, legislatures, presidents and executives, bureaucracies, courts, electoral systems, and international relations. Scholars have used various methodologies and theoretical paradigms to analyze parties and party systems. Among these, three general approaches have dominated the literature.

Party Systems as Reflections of Social Cleavages

The first approach in analyzing party systems, and by far the most prominent in comparative politics, focuses on the nature of social cleavages that manifest themselves in party politics. Scholars seek to understand which groups in society political parties represent. Lipset and Rokkan (1967) offer a well-known thesis in this research tradition. They argue that deeply rooted, stable social cleavages lead to stable party systems. Mid-twentieth-century voting patterns in Europe reflected the economic, social, and religious divisions that arose as a result of the national and industrial revolutions many decades earlier (Caramani 2004; Katz and Mair 1994). It takes major social changes, such as postindustrialization (Inglehart 1997), civil war, depression, or massive population shifts, to alter those patterns significantly (Burnham 1970). Caramani (2004) demonstrates how pre-World War I electoral cleavages remained relatively stable throughout the twentieth century in Europe.

In this approach, social cleavages shape party systems in an almost axiomatic way. While political leaders can try to shift groups of like-minded voters into and out of parties to serve partisan or political ends, these efforts can be difficult. For some scholars, whom Torcal and Mainwaring (2001) term as the "objective" social relations interpreters, parties represent societal interests, and these interests are ontologically prior to partisan debates. Numerous country studies use this perspective to account for the nature of the party system. Often political scientists will either use or control for a set of social categories when attempting to explain developments in party politics.8

The literature on party systems in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States is predominantly rooted in this tradition. British electoral politics typically are described in terms of the class and regional cleavages that exist in Britain (Crewe, Fox, and Day 1995). Class forms the basis of the party system with the working class voting overwhelmingly for the Labour Party, whereas regionalism stokes the success of the Scottish and Welsh parties (Butler and Stokes 1970; Mughan 1986; Rose 1974a). In Canada, region and language also have been the dominant factors used to explain the number of parties and the fluctuations in partisan fortunes. Ethnic divisions began to play a large role in Canadian party politics in the 1890s and were, according to some, critical in explaining the first electoral success of the Liberals (Schwartz 1974; Martin 1974). Regional parties, such as the Social Credit of Alberta and the Progressives of Saskatchewan, emerged because of the ostensible neglect of farming issues by the industry-centered politics of eastern Canada (Martin 1974; Blais 1997; LeDuc 1985). The rise of linguistic separatism in Quebec also has reshaped the Canadian party system with the Parti Quebecois and later the Bloc Quebecois emerging as powerful electoral forces in Quebec. For Canada, as a result, a host of scholars continues to stress the continuing role of ethno-religious divisions such as Catholics and Protestants, French versus English, and urban-rural divisions in structuring the Canadian party system (see, for instance, Johnston et al. 1992, chap. 2).

Indian electoral politics, because of well-known social divisions in language, religion, and caste, have been analyzed largely in terms of the role played by existing social cleavages. Despite some notable exceptions (Kothari 1964), analysts have focused on the impact of caste in structuring much of the party system (Brass 1965; 1984; Rudolph and Rudolph 1987; Yadav 1996). Religion and "religiosity" have been regarded as a major social cleavage in contemporary Indian politics insofar as they lie at the base of support for the BJP (Jaffrelot 1995). Regionalism has been long present in Indian party politics, and the contemporary Indian party system is seen as following regional patterns rather than divisions based on ideologies or different preferences over national policies (Wallace 2000).

Multiple lines of research on American party politics also place social cleavages at the center of many analyses. Kleppner (1970) and Holt (1999) use the "objective" social cleavage of ethnicity--especially national origin--to account for developments in U.S. party politics in the nineteenth century. The study of party realignments, influential not only in research on the United States but also in research on politics in many countries, traces the changing nature of partisan coalitions back to preceding social and political crises that disrupt formerly stable alliances among social groups (Key 1949; Schattschneider [1960] 1975; Burnham 1970; Petrocik 1981; Sundquist 1983). For example, the Great Depression severed the long-standing allegiance of many northern whites and southern blacks to the Republican Party, allowing Franklin Roosevelt to forge a national Democratic coalition that endured for at least four decades. Research into partisan attachments among voters emphasizes the stability of voting patterns among large social groups in the United States (Campbell et al. 1960; Converse 1964). The voting patterns of a vast majority of southerners, Catholics, Jews, African Americans, urban residents, and suburban whites are predictable over many elections and change slowly, if at all. (The similarity of conclusions between the microlevel study in American Voter, by Campbell et al. [1960], and the macrolevel study in Lipset and Rokkan's [1967] research on European partisan coalitions is striking.) A relatively antiquated tradition in the study of the American two-party system explains the weakness of third parties on the cultural dualism of American society, and the lack of a strong labor movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Lipset, Trow, and Coleman 1956; Charlesworth 1948; Hartz 1955). This line of research in American politics emphasizes how social cleavages, while malleable, are mostly durable and tend to shape the American party system.

The inverse effect, namely the impact of the machinations of party competition on recognizable and salient social cleavages, has been less emphasized (see Riker 1986; 1993). Some argue that political considerations have an influence on the party system somewhat independent of social cleavages, or that the cleavages themselves are formed as a result of party competition or interelite politics (Torcal and Mainwaring 2001; Bartolini 2000; Bartolini and Mair 1990). While social cleavages shape party systems, political leaders can try to shift groups of like-minded voters into and out of parties to serve partisan or political ends, although these efforts can be difficult. Voters develop strong loyalties for parties, politicians, and ideological labels, and they develop habits in partisan voting that are difficult to change. Accordingly, social cleavages can become politicized in interrelated ways that affect party systems (Bartolini 2000; Katz and Mair 1994; Kirchheimer 1966; Pederson 1979; Webb 2000). Politicians who seek public office campaign and form party coalitions that shape the partisanship of the electorate, which in turn solidifies party coalitions. Recent studies of Chile and Spain show that the role of political elites is indeed critical to cementing a relationship between political parties and social cleavages (Mainwaring and Torcal 2001). More generally, studies point to interelite politics as the cause of party systems based on social cleavages (Chhibber and Torcal 1997; Torcal and Mainwaring 2001).

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