Multi-Level Elections and Party Fortunes: The Electoral Impact of Decentralization in Western Europe

41 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 28 Aug 2011

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

Despite an extensive literature on the consequences of political and fiscal decentralization for a variety of outcomes, little is known about these reforms’ effects on the parties that implement them and the ethnoterritorial parties that demand them. This paper approaches this question from the perspective that decentralization is not simply the multiplication of subnational offices as previously argued, but it is also a strategy to bolster a party’s national vote share, by appeasing voters of threatening regionalist parties. Consistent with this appeasement theory, statistical analyses of election results in the subnational regions of 17 Western European countries find that governing parties gain support and ethnoterritorial parties lose support in national elections following significant decentralization. Token decentralization fails to satisfy decentralization voters and leads instead to further ethnoterritorial party vote gain and governing party vote loss in national elections. In subnational elections, ethnoterritorial parties benefit electorally from extensive decentralization, whereas the nationally focused governing parties lose support.

Keywords: decentralization, party strategy, appeasement, national vote share, governing party, ethnoterritorial party, Western Europe

Suggested Citation

Meguid, Bonnie M., Multi-Level Elections and Party Fortunes: The Electoral Impact of Decentralization in Western Europe (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1900031

Bonnie M. Meguid (Contact Author)

University of Rochester ( email )

Harkness Hall
Dept of Political Science
Rochester, NY 14627
United States

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