Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Author's Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Steven D. Roper

Abstract

This thesis examines party institutionalization in East Europe. Ethnicity, electoral systems and economics are variables explored in the substantive chapters. Many political science studies examine the number of parties in East Europe, but only a few studies study party institutionalization. Chapter 1 establishes the foundations for this thesis and provides an overview of each chapter.

In the second chapter, I analyze the relationship between institutionalized parties and ethnicity. Kitschelt (1992) argues that in the absence of institutionalized parties, voters look to other factors, such as ethnicity, when voting. The results from this chapter report that ethnicity plays a limited role in party institutionalization. The most surprising finding from this chapter is the significant relationship between the presence of an official state language and the number of institutionalized parties. For future research, I would like to develop and ethnicity index which would measure the distribution of ethnic groups within a country. I believe an ethnicity index would substantially improve the results in this chapter.

Electoral systems have received considerable attention from political scientists. Many studies focus on the relationship between electoral systems and the number of parties in a country. This chapter, however, examines the influence of electoral systems on the number of institutionalized parties in East Europe. In general, the results from chapter 3 provide no empirical support for the impact electoral systems have on party institutionalization. To improve the validity of this study, I believe additional elections could add salience to studies in this area.

Chapter 4 explores the effect economics has on institutionalized parties. In early elections, my results indicate an insignificant relationship between economic performance and party institutionalization. For the final two elections, my results show that economic variables influence party institutionalization. Gross national income (GNI) per capita was positive in the final two tests, and the results reveal a positive relationship between this variable and the number of institutionalized parties. Central government debt and gross domestic product (GDP) growth were also statistically significant in the final test. In sum, the findings in this thesis suggest that economics are the most salient factor for party institutionalization in East Europe.

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