Anne Meng, UVA Department of Politics

Party Institutionalization in Autocracies: Concept and Measurement

Thursday, November 10, 12:30PM-1:30PM
Location Gibson 296

Abstract: A key finding in the literature on authoritarian rule is that single-party regimes are remarkably long-lived and resilient compared with military or personalist regimes. Scholars typically interpret single-party regimes as having uniformly strong ruling parties. This paper argues that using regime typologies to implicitly define ruling party strength is subject to theoretical and measurement problems, and often conflates party strength with leader strength. Instead, I claim that ruling party strength should be conceptualized as institutionalization – the creation of hierarchies, rules, and procedures that structure the distribution of power and resources. I introduce a new dataset of party institutionalization in 37 Africa countries from 1960-2005 that reflects the creation of party rules and procedures promoting organizational autonomy. A comparison of the party institutionalization dataset against the regime typology dataset reveals that many parties that have been coded as part of dominant-party regimes are not very institutionalized and actually more resemble personalist regimes. Using this new dataset I reassess the empirical claim that strong parties lengthen autocratic rule and find no evidence that party institutionalization is correlated with regime durability or longevity in Africa.