Windows of Opportunity: Legislative Fragmentation Conditions the Effect of Partisanship on Deregulation

40 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2011  

Michael G. Smith

Columbia University

Johannes Urpelainen

Columbia University

Date Written: July 17, 2011

Abstract

Previous research on deregulation in industrialized countries emphasizes differences between left-wing and right-wing parties, but data on product market regulation (PMR) indicate that these differences have been mostly modest. If partisan preferences on the merits of deregulation differ sharply, why such modest differences? We argue that partisan differences only become pronounced when the government is strong and rules a relatively unified legislature. Thus, legislative fragmentation should reduce the left-right difference in deregulation. We test this theory against PMR data in 29 industrialized countries, 1978-2007. We find that right-wing governments only have a strong negative effect on regulation if the legislature and the government are not fragmented. These findings can account for trajectories in several salient cases, from Thatcher's Great Britain to the Scandinavian welfare states, and they show how political institutions mediate the effect of partisanship through changes in opportunity structures.

Keywords: deregulation, political economy, partisanship

JEL Classification: L50, D72

Suggested Citation

Smith, Michael G. and Urpelainen, Johannes, Windows of Opportunity: Legislative Fragmentation Conditions the Effect of Partisanship on Deregulation (July 17, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1887506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1887506

Michael G. Smith

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Johannes Urpelainen (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~ju2178

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