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Zim Nwokora, "The distinctive politics of campaign finance reform," Party Politics, 20 (November, 2014), 918-929. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
What processes propel campaign finance reforms? The literature on the financing of politics presents inadequate answers to theoretical questions on the origins of institutional change in this context.1 As Hopkin (2004: 628) explains, 'major comparative studies … have tended to lack a consistent theoretical framework' and the field as a whole is 'undertheorized'. This article proposes a general theory of the causes and consequences of campaign finance reforms. It provides a coherent explanation of three empirical puzzles that are beyond the reach of existing partial theories. First, that lawmakers sometimes enact reforms that make elections more competitive even though these increase their electoral vulnerability (Dennis, 1998: 641-649; La Raja, 2008: 83; Scarrow, 2004: 654). Secondly, party system scholars observe inter-party collusion - between rivals for office - to introduce publicly funded subsidies (Blyth and Katz, 2005; Katz and Mair, 1995). Thirdly, money-politics scandals, though sometimes a precursor of reform, are neither necessary nor sufficient as an explanation of reforms in general (Jiménez, 2004; La Raja, 2008: 84-86; Zelizer, 2002). The article's theoretical synthesis therefore integrates diverse, and partly divergent, empirical observations.

Figure 1. Interactions in the monopoly game.
Table 1. Payoffs in the Monopoly Game.
Figure 2. Left-right ideological spectrum and tightness-looseness issue spectrum.
Figure 3. Cooperation between parties L and R.
Table 2. Campaign finance reform matrix.

Last Paragraph:
This theoretical synthesis reconciles the major empirical observations on campaign finance politics. Yet it remains incomplete because it treats campaign finance politics in abstraction when they are, in fact, affected by games in other arenas. To understand particular reforms we may need to examine these inter-game interactions. But the generic treatment in this article provides starting points for deeper, theory-driven analyses of the intervening effects of institutional veto players, political culture and democratic norms on the incentives underlying financing politics.

Last updated November 2014