Political Parties Essay

Political Parties Essay

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What influences parties’ choices between clientelistic and programmatic citizen- politician linkages? In the context of democratization, many authoritarian regimes used to deploy clientelism as the main strategy for maintaining its rules (Magaloni 2006). Even in democratic institutions, parties could systematically and continuously engage in clientelism to maintain long time ruling (Piattoni 2001, Kitschelt 2007). Those hegemonic parties, once defeated in elections, faced an important choice of where to go. In various accounts, different parties went through different lines of development, producing different outcomes. Compared to Shefter’s (1977) analysis that the choice of clientelistic/programmatic strategies is path-dependent and fixed, this paper seeks to address the changes. By investigating two cases of former hegemonic parties’ transition after electoral defeat (KMT in Taiwan and PRI in Mexico), I examined why parties made different choices, and how those different moves altered the transformation of parties. Furthermore, I offered a theoretical pattern in conclusion to differentiate different forms of transformation by two factors: resource control and ideological strength.
Theoretical terms and method
Two key terms in this paper need to be clarified in advance: resource control and ideological strength. By resource control, I mean particularly the financial resources parties possess and distribute for the sake of winning elections. Resources include control over central or local government budget, access to public subsidies allocation and other properties owned by parties. Levels of resource control can be measured by different offices held by the party and the party’s expenditure structure. It is generally perce...


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...dence direction, with President Lee Teng-hui openly announced that Taiwan and mainland China were de facto two different states. This shift had angered many pro-unification party bases, and motivated some KMT politicians to form the New Party (NP) in 1993. NP went on becoming the third largest party, and attracted many votes from traditional KMT supporters. After 2000 election, James Soong also formed his own party, People First Party (PFP), and replaced NP as the major pro-unification party in the system. As the regime cleavage has effectively faded following the successful democratization and regime change, state-identity cleavage became the major salient issue of Taiwan elections. The ambiguous position KMT took on state-identity issues made it hard to perform well among sharply divided ideological voters, and the party was at risk of losing its own “location”.

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