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Sarah Wilson Sokhey and A. Kadir Yildirim, "Economic liberalization and political moderation: The case of anti-system parties," Party Politics, 19 (March 2013), 230-255. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
Economic liberalization has long been thought to contribute to political moderation. Yet, there are numerous instances around the world in which economic liberalization has not had this effect. This empirical outcome might exist because we lack a precise explanation of the causal mechanism by which this economic liberalization contributes to political change. To better explain this theoretical question and empirical puzzle, we analyze the relationship between economic liberalization and political moderation in the case of Islamist and Communist parties. In the Middle East, we observe the moderation of Islamist parties into Muslim Democratic Parties (MDPs), aiming to represent the same constituents as Islamist parties but adopting much more pragmatic stances that are not opposed to democracy and the market. Likewise, in the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe, we see some Communist successor parties winning elections after reinventing themselves with more pragmatic, rather than ideological, policy stances. This is a powerful comparison because in an important but often overlooked way Islamist and Communist parties share a commonality: both kinds of parties have ideological foundations that oppose democracy and the free market.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Economic liberalization indicators (global rank in parentheses, out of 139 countries).
Table 2. Summary of Case Comparisons.

Last Paragraph:
By pointing out a common mechanism of economic liberalization and SME growth through which Islamist and Communist parties moderate to become pragmatic parties, we underline the similar dynamics that drive moderation. In contrast to the common conception of economic liberalization as a standard process of reform - or some kind of strait jacket that will have the same effect under a wide variety of different circumstances - we underscore politicians' leverage and discretion in shaping the liberalization reforms. Critically, the way in which liberalization unfolds will determine whether ideologically extreme parties moderate their agendas or not. We think that this research moves the discipline closer to a more general explanation of the connection between economic liberalization and political moderation.

Last updated March 2013