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Jonathan Hopkin, "Party Matters: Devolution and Party Politics in Britain and Spain," Party Politics, 15 (March, 2009), 179-198.

First paragraph:
One of the most notable trends in West European politics over the past three decades has been decentralization. Even traditionally centralized states such as the UK and France have devolved power to sub-national tiers of government; with the exception of some smaller European countries, multi-level electoral politics and the distribution of important policy competences to the regional level have become the norm in established democracies.

Figures and Tables:
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Last Paragraph:
The two parties studied failed to decentralize their internal organization as much as might have been expected following the creation of new regional governments. This shows that the organizational inertias of state-wide political parties can act as a break on the potentially centrifugal effects of decentralizing reforms. Of course, this focus on parties' internal organizational logics does not provide us with a simple key to understanding the causes and consequences of decentralization. On the contrary, it complicates the picture, making theory-generation far more challenging. There is much to be gained from the kind of reductive theories critiqued in this article, but they need to be complemented by an awareness of the fact that territorial politics can emerge in apparently 'nationalized' political systems, and that parties are not unitary actors and often fail to react to incentives in the expected ways. Stable patterns of social division, and the incentives provided by institutions, are constraints within which parties operate, but parties have 'lives of their own'.

Last updated March 2009