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The Formation of National Party Systems:
Federalism and Party Competition in Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States
Pradeep Chhibber & Ken Kollman

Winner of the 2005 Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award, Division of Political Organizations and Parties of the American Political Science Association
Runner-Up for the 2005 Gregory Luebbert Book Award, Comparative Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

Paperback | 2004 | $46.00 | £38.95 | ISBN: 9780691119328
272 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman rely on historical data spanning back to the eighteenth century from Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States to revise our understanding of why a country's party system consists of national or regional parties. They demonstrate that the party systems in these four countries have been shaped by the authority granted to different levels of government. Departing from the conventional focus on social divisions or electoral rules in determining whether a party system will consist of national or regional parties, they argue instead that national party systems emerge when economic and political power resides with the national government. Regional parties thrive when authority in a nation-state rests with provincial or state governments. The success of political parties therefore depends on which level of government voters credit for policy outcomes. National political parties win votes during periods when political and economic authority rests with the national government, and lose votes to regional and provincial parties when political or economic authority gravitates to lower levels of government.

This is the first book to establish a link between federalism and the formation of national or regional party systems in a comparative context. It places contemporary party politics in the four examined countries in historical and comparative perspectives, and provides a compelling account of long-term changes in these countries. For example, the authors discover a surprising level of voting for minor parties in the United States before the 1930s. This calls into question the widespread notion that the United States has always had a two-party system. In fact, only recently has the two-party system become predominant.


"In this comprehensive book Pradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman examine in detail and over long historical periods four countries that use the same electoral system but have had differing party systems, both comparatively and historically. Their central argument is that party systems are more aggregated, that is, more national . . . where economic and political power rests with the national government."--Choice


"Chhibber and Kollman provide the most extensive and careful study of a relatively neglected but important issue--party aggregation--and a compelling case for the importance of centralization in explaining over-time trends in party aggregation."--Gary Cox, University of California, San Diego, author of Making Votes Count

"The authors propose an original and intuitively compelling answer to an important question that has long preoccupied scholars of party politics. The claim that the degree of government centralization has an effect on how party and electoral systems are organized is a plausible one. By theorizing about the hitherto neglected role of the state in explaining the number of parties, this clearly written book opens up new avenues of research in the field of parties and elections."--Kanchan Chandra, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of Why Ethnic Parties Succeed

Table of Contents:

List of Figures and Tables ix
Acknowledgments xiii
CHAPTER ONE: Introduction 1
CHAPTER TWO: Electoral Competition at the Constituency Level 28
CHAPTER THREE: Party Aggregation 61
CHAPTER FOUR: From Local Notables to Party Competition 81
CHAPTER FIVE: Centralization and Provincialization 101
CHAPTER SIX: Dynamics of Party Aggregation 161
CHAPTER SEVEN: Party Aggregation in Four Countries 180
CHAPTER EIGHT: Conclusion 222
Appendix 239
Bibliography 243
Index 269

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