State Capacity and the Development of Political Party Systems

My dissertation focuses examines why party systems in hybrid regimes vary.  I argue that the key factor in the change in the fragmentation of loyal opposition parties over time is the state’s infrastructural power. At lower levels of state capacity, regimes manage elites through clientelism or corruption, which encourages elites to either join the leader’s ruling party or form a large number of small parties. As state infrastructural power increases, bargaining over policy becomes a viable option. Under those conditions, elites have an incentive to form larger and more stable political parties, leading to a more consolidated loyal opposition.  I evaluate my argument in two ways: First, I establish that party system fractionalization in hybrid regimes is conditional on state capacity using time-series cross-sectional statistical analysis. Second, using structured interviews and survey experiments in four Eurasian countries that vary across state infrastructural power and freedom of expression, I test the hypotheses that elites find regime policy commitments more credible and are more likely to bargain over policy in countries with higher infrastructural power.