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Jóhanna Kristín Birnir, "Where Are the Disgruntled Voters? Voter-Party Relations under Cartelizing Conditions," Party Politics, 16 (January, 2010), 29-49. [Available at]

First paragraph:
In the literature that considers the effect of public funding on party systems, Katz and Mair's (1995) influential Cartel Party argument holds that, in an environment of increasing detachment between parties and civil society, the introduction of public funds consolidates parties' reliance on the state for sustenance rather than on party members.1 Katz and Mair further posit that state funding in Western Europe aids parliamentary parties' collusion that prevents competition from new parties. The provocative suggestions of this argument continue to create fertile ground for debate. This research includes a number of case studies (Lyrintzis, 2000; MacIvor, 1996; Young, 1998),2 but the thrust of the debate concerns the accuracy of the description of the party system as cartelized as a result of the introduction of state subsidy (Katz and Mair, 1996; Koole, 1996; Pierre et al., 2000), with particular emphasis on parties' ability to limit entry of contenders (Blyth and Katz, 2005; Kitschelt, 2000; Scarrow, 2006).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Vote instability and party funding
Table 2. Vote instability and party funding, accounting for changing times
Table 3. Turnout
Table 4. (a) The Netherlands 1970 and 1976 and (b) Italy 1970 and 1976
Table 5. (a) Belgium 1976-92 and (b) Belgium 1983-92
Table 6. (a) Greece 1981-91 and (b) Portugal 1985-92

Last Paragraph:
Finally, Blyth and Katz (2005) posit that parties may be entering a period of post-cartelization, where they 'expect to see decreasing dependence on resources generated by the party on the ground in favour of funds raised by the central party organization' (p. 45). This is a provocative idea. In an era when member fees constitute a negligible proportion of party funds, such increased party resources on the ground are likely mostly private donations. Presumably, increasing donations could free parties entirely from reliance on state subsidies that, through electoral criteria, inexorably tie them to voters. If parties succeed in raising the funds they need from a few private donors, however, then the future looks not so much like a post-cartel era as a throwback to the era of elite parties funded by, and representing, a few wealthy constituents.

Last updated January 2010