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Party Systems

How party systems differ across the world

Books and Monographs
American Parties in Context: Comparative and Historical Analysis (New York: Routledge, 2016; with Robert Harmel and Matthew Gieber.)
Considers the 1950 APSA report on "Responsible Parties" in the light of recent evidence from the United States and across the world.


Party Systems and Country Governance. (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press, 2011; With Jin-Young Kwak)
Analyzes the effects of party system characteristics on the quality of governance in 212 countires as measured by six World Bank indicators of governance. Finding: Competitive party system are significantly related to four indicators of country governance. (The link above goes to to a full-text PDF of the published book.)

Data for party systems in 21 regions of the world reported in Party Systems and Country Governance. Multiple regression analysis shows that country size, wealth, and party system traits explain over one-half to more than two-thirds of the variation in the World Bank Governance Indicators.



Political Parties and Their Environment: Limits to Reform? New York: Longman, 1982; with Robert Harmel).
Studies whether the United States can develop and support more "Responsible Parties," as proposed in the controversial 1950 APSA report. This link goes to a complete copy of the book.
Articles and Book Chapters


"Do Party Systems Matter? Harvard International Review, 34 (Spring, 2013), 63-67.
Demonstrates that party system competitiveness and stability are related to the World Bank's measure, Rule of Law, in hundred of countries. See more complete data in Party Systems and Country Governance.


"Governance in Democracies and Non-Democracies," in Ann Marie Bissessar (ed.), Governance: Is It for Everyone? (Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2012), pp. 141-159.
Assesses the strength of that theory using the 2007 Worldwide Governance Indicators for 212 countries and their ratings by Freedom House as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Controlling for country size and wealth, regression analyses explain upwards of sixty percent of the variance in WGI scores.


"Party Systems and Country Governance," Vox POP, 28 (Summer, 2011), pp. 1-2,
Country governance refers to the extent to which a state delivers to its citizens the desired benefits of government at acceptable costs. This note describes" how Jin-Yung Kwak and I address the question: "Does the nature of a country's political party system affect the quality of its governance?" in Party Systems and Country Governance.


"Party System Effects on Country governance: A Cross-National Analysis," Korean Political Science Review, 45 (No. 3, 2010), 7-41. (with Jin-Young Kwak)
Country governance is defined as the extent to which a state delivers desired benefits of government at acceptable costs. Standard theory in comparative political parties says that the quality of country governance should be better in countries (1) with party systems than without them, (2) where party systems are competitive, (3) where party systems are aggregative, and (4) where party systems are stable. We test those propositions using the 2007 Worldwide Governance Indicators for 212 countries matched with our own. comprehensive set of data for the same countries.
"Measuring Party System: Revisiting Competiveness and Volatility in Parliamentary Party Systems," The Korean Journal of Area Studies, 28 (August, 2010), 21-49 (with Jin-Young Kwak)
This study aims to generate indicators of party system applicable to studies of measuring the party system, and to conceptualize party system properties with eight measures of party system, i.e., strength of the largest party, actual number of parties in parliament, fractionalization index by Rae, effective number of parties by Laakso and Taagepera, aggregation index by Mayer, volatility seat renovated from Pederson's, strength of the second largest party and the strength of the third largest parties.
"Country Governance, Rule of Law, and Party Systems," in the Russian language journal, Political Science, (No. 4, 2010), 113-142. See the Russian language version, GOVERNANCE,
The issue in answering the question—"What is governance?"—is whether its definition advances understanding. In other words, is the concept linked to the term useful to inquiry? If so, how? This paper links governance to national politics, specifically to how well governments function in different countries.
Papers and Addresses
"A Simpler and Better Measure of Party System Competition," Paper presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.
The margin of votes separating the two largest parties is the most common measure of party system competition. A simpler and better measure is the percentage of seats held by the second largest party. It is simpler because it requires only one item of information instead of two. It is better because it is more fruitful theoretically and because data are available for many more countries on seats than votes.


"Party Systems Effects on Country Governance, II" Paper presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the America Political Science Association, Washington, DC. (with Jin-young Kwak and Julieta Suarez-Cao)
Describes research recently completed for a forthcoming book, Party Systems and Country Governance. The paper's presentation parallels chapters in the forthcoming book. It provides thumbnail sketches of the first five chapters and summaries of later ones. It is also the sequel to a paper delivered at the 2010 meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. This paper summarizes research methodology reported at greater length in the Midwest paper and uses two additional variables. Its extended findings show that party system traits have significant and relatively consistent effects on country governance in 212 countries, as measured by the Worldwide Governance Indicators.
"Party System Effects on Country Governance, I" Paper presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago. (with Jin-young Kwak and Julieta Suarez-Cao)
Reviewed various measures of party system properties and identified party system fragmentation, competitiveness, and volatility as central to scholarly attention and party theory. Assembling a unique set of data on seats held by parliamentary parties over two elections in 189 countries, we created measures for each of the three dimensions. We then tested three standard theories of the effects of party systems on country governance, using primarily data on the Rule of Law in 211 countries assembled in a World Bank project for 2007.


"Competition and Volatility in Parliamentary Party Systems for 212 Polities," Paper presehted at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago. (with Jinyoung Kwak)
We demonstrate the effects of country size, wealth, and politics on the World Bank's Indicators (WGI) representing the quality of governance in 212 polities in 2007. These indicators, created by Kaufmann, Kraay, and Mastruzzi (KKM), covered all 192 members of the United Nations.


"A Note on Measures of Party System Change," Comparative Political Studies, 12 (January, 1980), 412-423.
In this symposium Mogens Pedersen argues against measuring party system change by comparing stalic measures of "fractionalization," and proposes a measure based on (,.-IHInges in party strength from time I to time 2, Shankar Bose proposes a related measure of party system change that combines changes in strength with changes in party continuity over time. This article compares their measures as applied to data from tcn party systems.


"Restructuring the Party Systems in Central Europe," paper delivered at an International Symposium, Democratization and Political Reform in Korea, sponsored by the Korean Political Science Association, Seoul, Korea, November 19, 1994.
(1) To what extent are individual parties in central and eastern Europe becoming institutionalized? (2) How stable (or how volatile) are the voting patterns for parties across elections? (3) How does the experience of these "postauthoritarian" elections compare with the first elections in Western Europe following the end of World War II? This paper will offer some answers to these questions with specific reference to the political experience of four central European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.


"Diversities Among Political Parties in Industrialized Societies," paper delivered at the Symposium on Comparative Analysis of Highly Industrialized Societies, sponsored by the International Social Science Council and held in Bellagio, Italy, August 1-17, 1971.
This paper contributes to the Symposium on Comparative Analysis of Highly Industrialized Societies by examining the means and variances of party properties (represented by the same seven concepts) when political parties are grouped into three levels of industrialization attained by their parent nations. This examination will allow for testing some rudimentary propositions concerning party properties and levels of industrialization across nations, and it will foreshadow some possible problems in building and testing any social theory that involves party variables and pertains specifically to highly industrialized societies.
Book Reviews


Piero Ignazi,
Party and Democracy: The Uneven Road to Party Legitimacy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017) in Party Politics (2019)


Larry Diamond and Richard Gunther (eds.),
Political Parties and Democracy (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001) in Party Politics, 9 (March, 2003), 257-259.


Moshe Maor,
Political Parties and Party Systems: Comparative Approaches and the British Experience, (London and New York: Routledge, 1997). In Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration, 2 (April, 1998), 246-247.


Tatu Vanhanen.
The Process of Democratization: A Comparative Study of 147 States, 1980-1988 (New York: Crane Russak, 1991). In Journal of Politics, 54 (August, 1992), 928-930.


Lawrence C. Dodd.
Coalitions in Parliamentary Government. (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976) in The American Political Science Review, 72 (June, 1978), 722-724.