Programmatic By Association? How Authoritarian Successor Parties Shape Party Competition in Newer Democracies

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 253 (University of Glasgow)
Anna Grzymala-Busse , Political Science, Stanford University
Monika Nalepa , Political Science, The University of Chicago
How do the successors to authoritarian ruling parties shape political party competition in new democracies? While the strategies of their exit and reinvention have been the subject of considerable research, we know relatively little about the consequences for subsequent party competition. Building on research that examines party linkages and the impact of authoritarian legacies on party volatility, we examine how authoritarian successors affect programmatic party competition in East-Central Europe after the regime collapse of 1989. Here, a puzzle arises: why do liberal parties with programmatic offerings closely resembling the authoritarian successors' fail, while the authoritarian successors themselves succeed? We argue that while some former authoritarians can rely on clientelistic linkages, former opposition parties have no choice but to rely on programs in winning over voter support. Even though the ideological proximity to former successors hurts these parties’ standing in parliament, their oppositional roots commit them to maintaining the same platform. Meanwhile other parties, ideologically distant from the successors, end up increasing their legislative representation. The result is a paradox: liberal democratic parties run on platforms very similar to authoritarian successors: but the former authoritarians succeed far more. We examine the implications of our theory using data from the Democratic Accountability and Linkages Project as well as a new dataset on authoritarian successor parties.