Rule of law and party systems : a study of regional political parties in India
Author(s)Ziegfeld, Adam W. (Adam Weston)
Study of regional political parties in India
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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Where do party systems come from? The first part of this dissertation argues that party system formation depends on the rule of law, which is defined as the extent to which the state uniformly implements and enforces its laws and policies. When the rule of law is weak, voters form attachments primarily over politicians, and voters cast their ballots for whichever party their preferred politician chooses to establish or join. Consequently, politicians ultimately shape party system formation, since their decisions about party affiliation determine whether a political party succeeds or fails. By contrast, when the rule of law is strong, voters form attachments directly over political parties; voters therefore determine which parties constitute the party system. The second part of the dissertation applies the argument about party system formation under weak rule of law to the case of regional political parties in India. This project explains the success of regional parties in a weak rule of law democracy such as India by focusing on why so many politicians choose to establish and join regional parties. The two factors that explain the extraordinary success of Indian regional parties are 1) the geographic concentration of caste groups (and to a lesser extent, other types of politically salient groups) and 2) frequent coalition government at the national level. The geographic concentration of caste groups raises the costs associated with establishing a national party by forcing politicians from various caste groups to coordinate with one another. Meanwhile, frequent coalition government increases the benefits associated with membership in a regional party by allowing regional parties to participate in national-level government. Empirically, this dissertation is based on 17 months of field research and over 550 interviews with state- and local-level politicians across three Indian states: Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2009.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 198-208).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology