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The dominant party system: clientelism, pluralism and limited contestability

Trantidis, Aris (2012) The dominant party system: clientelism, pluralism and limited contestability. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The thesis extends the conceptual boundaries of authoritarianism to include dominant party systems that meet the procedural definition of democracy but exhibit low degrees of government contestability due to the extensive application of clientelism. The first part re-introduces Robert Dahl’s notion of ‘inclusive hegemony’ which encapsulates the stance of political pluralism on dominant party systems. The thesis develops two arguments in support of a Dahlian approach to dominant party systems. The formative argument discusses the associations between power, incentives, collective action and party organisation to indicate that, in the absence of physical coercion and intimidation, inclusive hegemony is a paradoxical outcome that can only be sustained by the application of a political strategy producing an effect on political behaviour similar to that of coercion. The discussion illustrates the practice of clientelism as the most pertinent explanatory variable. The second part develops a series of analytical arguments which update Dahl’s approach in order to meet the criterion set up by the contemporary literature for distinguishing between authoritarian and democratic dominant party systems, according to which the strategies and tactics associated with the establishment of a dominant party system determine the character of the regime. The set of argument addresses two questions: a) how clientelism can be causally associated with the rise and consolidation of an inclusive hegemony and b) whether clientelism is compatible with typical properties of democracy. The causal model presented indicates how clientelism affects political behaviour and overall competition. By incorporating agential and structural parameters it explains the consolidation of inclusive hegemonies. The same model provides the grounds for the formulation of two arguments on the democratic credentials of clientelism which allows the analysis to pass judgment on the character of inclusive hegemonies.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Additional Information: © 2012 Aris Trantidis
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Featherstone, Kevin

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