The relationship between electoral instability and programmatic configuration in contemporary party systems



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This thesis aims to discuss how electoral volatility is related to party system programmatic configuration. Two types of electoral volatility are expected to explain why some party systems have a wide range of ideological options and distinctive programmatic offers, while other have tight ideological space and low level of programmatic diversity. This work constructs party system programmatic configuration through the concepts of party system polarization and aggregate nicheness. The degree of party system’s ideological dispersion and nicheness show how close parties located to each other, and how much their electoral platforms overlap. Both concepts capture similar phenomenon from the perspective of spatial and issue ownership theory. Relative differences in both dimensions matter when we talk about the possibility of cooperation or future coalition bargaining process. Additionally, work presents an examination of general polarization and aggregate nicheness tendencies in various party systems. The cross-nation study investigated mentioned associations in 48 party systems across the world. To test the association between two types of electoral volatility and party system programmatic composition, the study employed multiple regression analysis and conducted two separate tests. The first model was intended to investigate supposed to explore a possible relation between two types of electoral volatility and polarization. The second model tested the association between two electoral volatility variables and aggregate nicheness. It was expected that regeneration volatility is positively associated with dependent variables, whereas alternation volatility assumed to be negatively related to aggregate nicheness and polarization. Results of the analysis did not register any association between variables of interest, which means that regeneration volatility and alternation volatility do not explain variations in party system polarization or aggregate nicheness. An additional finding is that our analysis did not find any evidence in support of the previously assumed association between party system fragmentation and party polarization. Moreover, several socio-economic and system-related factors appeared to be better predictors of party system nicheness and polarization. Annual inflation was the only variable that was negatively associated with polarization and aggregate nicheness simultaneously. We also investigated the association between polarization and aggregate nicheness, and our results suggest that these two systematic characteristics appear to be related. Polarization and aggregate nicheness move in the same direction, which means that polarized party systems tend to have more diverse programmatic options.