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Ching-Hsing Wang, "The effects of party fractionalization and party polarization on democracy," Party Politics, 20 (September, 2014), 687-699. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue5/ ]

First paragraph:
Political parties are regarded as being necessary for the effective functioning of democracy. They play an important role in the selection of official personnel, formulation of public policies, conductors or critics of government, political education and intermediation between individual and government (Scarrow, 1967). All are conducive to democracy and therefore democracy without parties is difficult to imagine. Similarly, the institutionalization of the party system has been widely viewed as a prerequisite for the consolidation of democracy. However, the effects of different party system characteristics on democracy have been sharply contested. For instance, some scholars argue that multiparty systems decrease the clarity of choices before voters; they undermine governmental accountability and responsibility and polarize the political landscape. Others contend that multiparty systems enhance the quality of democracy in a polity by increasing the choices before voters, augmenting the representation of different groups and mitigating the likelihood of civil strife (Kuenzi and Lambright, 2005). As a result, this study attempts to clarify the relationship between party system characteristics and democracy.

Table 1. The list of observations.
Table 2. Descriptive for party system, democracy and control variables.
Figure 1. Correlation between party fractionalization and party polarization.
Figure 2. Correlation between party fractionalization and the level of democracy.
Figure 3. Correlation between party polarization and the level of democracy.
Table 3. OLS estimates of level of democracy models.
Table 4. OLS estimates of democracy, full model (N=65).
Table 5. OLS estimates of democracy, full model (N=37).

Last Paragraph:
(First paragrap of Conclsions) The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of party systems on democracy, focusing especially on two most important party system characteristics - party fractionalization and party polarization. The results of the OLS regression analyses present that party polarization is related to the level of democracy in a country. Specifically, the higher level of party polarization can produce the higher level of democracy, which reflects the argument that a polarized party system can provide people with clear information about policy positions of different parties, making people vote for the party whose policy position is close to them more easily. As a consequence, people are able to make sure that the party for which they vote can really represent them. When the public's true preferences can be expressed by representatives or parties, we expect that democracy will function well. On the other hand, some scholars argue that greater party fractionalization would lead to a significant deterioration of democracy based on the idea that as the number of political parties increases, it becomes more difficult for political parties to cooperate with each other and make compromises, which then may impact adversely on the functioning of democracy. In contrast to the above argument, this study finds that there is no significant relationship between party fractionalization and the level of democracy in a country. That is, high level of party fractionalization exerts neither positive nor negative influence on democracy.

Last updated November 2014