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Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies

This book addresses the question of why a party system with a modest
number of nationally oriented political parties emerges in some
democracies but not others. The number of parties and nationalization
are the product of coordination between voters, candidates, and party
leaders within local electoral districts and coordination among candidates
and elites across districts. Candidates and voters can and do coordinate
locally in response to electoral incentives, but coordination across
districts, or aggregation, often fails in developing democracies. A key
contribution of this book is the development and testing of a theory of
aggregation incentives that focuses on the payoff to being a large party and
the probability of capturing that payoff. The book relies on in-depth case
studies of Thailand and the Philippines, and on large-N analysis to
establish its arguments.

Allen Hicken is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the
University of Michigan, a Faculty Associate at the Center for Southeast
Asian Studies, and a Research Associate Professor at the Center for
Political Studies. He studies elections, parties, and party systems in
developing democracies, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. He has
carried out research and held research positions in Thailand, the
Philippines, Singapore, and Cambodia. He is the recipient of a Fulbright
Award and, with Ken Kollman, an NSF grant. His publications include
articles in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of
Politics, Electoral Studies, the Journal of East Asian Studies, and Taiwan
Journal of Democracy.
Building Party Systems in Developing

University of Michigan
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York

Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521885348
© Allen Hicken 2009

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the
provision of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part
may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.
First published in print format 2009

ISBN-13 978-0-511-48078-2 eBook (NetLibrary)

ISBN-13 978-0-521-88534-8 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy
of urls for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication,
and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain,
accurate or appropriate.

Acknowledgments page ix

Introduction 1
A Theory of Aggregation Incentives 26
Testing the Theory 47
Aggregation, Nationalization, and the Number
of Parties in Thailand 86
Explaining Aggregation in Thailand 116
Term Limits, Aggregation Incentives, and
the Number of Parties in the Philippines 149
Conclusion 180

References 187
Index 205


Completing this book, I have incurred debts to many people that I will
never be able to adequately repay. Numerous friends and colleagues
have commented on all or parts of this work, and I thank them each for
their input. All errors and omissions are my own. As a graduate student
at the University of California, San Diego, I was fortunate to be the
recipient of intellectual and professional mentoring from Gary Cox,
Andrew MacIntyre, Peter Gourevitch, Stephan Haggard, and Matthew
Shugart. Their counsel and constant questioning (and patience) helped
give the original dissertation shape, and they have continued to
encourage me as I™ve worked on this book. I ¬nd it dif¬cult to imagine a
more ideal committee for any student. Thanks, too, to Matt Baum
(for his example and a quick answer to a midnight email), Lorelei
Moosbruger (for making me think), and Andrew MacIntyre, a
wonderful mentor and an even better friend.
At Michigan, I received valuable feedback from my colleagues in the
junior faculty workshop. Mary Gallagher, Orit Kedar, Mika LaVaque-
Manty, and Rob Mickey have been wonderful colleagues in all senses of
the word. I am still amazed that my colleagues Anna Grzymala-Busse,
Skip Lupia, Ken Kollman, and Scott Page consented to read and discuss
an early version of this manuscript. Their detailed and dif¬cult feedback
greatly improved the manuscript. Special thanks to Anna for being the
consummate public goods provider. Finally, this book is better than it
might have been due to the research assistance of Joel Simmons; thanks
Joel. Outside of Michigan, I owe debts of gratitude to several people


who read parts of the book and offered useful feedback. These include
Pradeep Chhibber, Rick Doner, Mark Jones, and Ben Reilly.
My work in Thailand and the Philippines was made easier by people™s
willingness to speak with me about confusing, complex, and sometimes
controversial issues. I was fortunate to be af¬liated with the Asian
Institute of Management in Makati during my stay in 2004 and made
grateful use of the resources of that ¬ne institution. During my trips to the
Philippines, the following individuals were among those who shared
helpful insights with me: Anthony Abat, Jose Almonte, Manuel Perez
Aquino, Rommel Banlaoi, Enrico Basilio, Father Joaquin Bernas,
Resurreccion Borra, Felix Berto Bustos, Venus Cajucom, Consuelo
Callangan, Clarita Carlos, Emmanuel de Dios, Robert de Ocampo,
Benjamin Diokno, Raul Fabella, James Faustino, Willibold Frehner,
Vicente Gambito, Crisanta Legaspi, Victor Lim, Felipe Medalla, Amado
Mendoza, Filipe Miranda, Romulo Neri, Rogelio Paglomutan, Epictetus
Patalinghug, Joel Rocamora, Chito Salazar, Meliton Salazar, and Gwen
Tecson. A special thanks to Josie and Bebe Paren at IDE for their help and
generous hospitality. Bobby de Ocampo proved an insightful guide to
Philippine politics and a wonderful friend and host. My family and I will
always be grateful.
In Thailand, Michael Nelson™s knowledge and friendship and healthy
skepticism were extremely helpful. Others willing to sit down with
me (often more than once) include Abhisit Vellajivva, Ammar Siamwalla,
Amorn Chandara-Somboon, Anek Laothamatas, Anusorn Limanee,
Areepong Bhoocha-oom, Chris Baker, Peter Brimble, Trevor Bull,
Chaowana Traimas, Charoen Kanthawongs, Chinawut Naressaenee,
Scott Christensen, Gothom Arya, Hatasakdi Na Pombejra, Kanok
Wongtrangan, Dan King, Kraisak Choonhavan, Kramol Thongthama-
chart, Simon Leary, Likhit Dhiravegin, Manop Sangiambut, Medhi
Krongkaew, Pallapa Runagrong, Pasuk Phongpaichit, Patcharee Siriros,
Phipat Thairry, Phongthep Thepkanjana, Pornsak Phongpaew, Piyasnast
Amranand, Serirat Prasutanond, Jeremy Price, Sombat Chantornvong,
Terana Settasompop, Uwe Solinger, Thiti Kumnerddee, Suchit Bong-
bongkorn, Varathep Ratanakorn, Vichai Tunsiri, and Vuthipong
Priebjrivat. I am grateful to Ajarn Suchit Bongbongkorn for inviting me
to be a visitor at the Institute for Security and International Studies at
Chulalongkorn during my dissertation ¬eldwork. During a subsequent
visit to Thailand, the Thailand Development and Research Institute was
Acknowledgments xi

my intellectual home away from home. Thanks to Dr. Chalongphob
Sussangkarn for extending the invitation and to Ajarn Ammar Siamwalla
for stimulating discussions about parties, political economy, and the
M þ 1 rule.
The research for this book would not have been possible without the
¬nancial support of several institutions. Part of the original dissertation
research was supported by a Dissertation Research Fellowship from
the Institute on Global Con¬‚ict and Cooperation. Subsequent research
was made possible by a Fulbright Fellowship, which funded more time
in Thailand and the Philippines. Finally, a good portion of the book
manuscript was completed while I was a visiting researcher at the Asian
Research Institute and the National University of Singapore. I am
grateful to Tony Reid for his vision of an interdisciplinary community
of scholars and for inviting me to be a part of that community. While I
was thankful for the time to write, the proximity of so many interesting
colleagues sometimes made that a challenge. The debates and
conversations with Erik Kuhonta, K. S. Jomo, Michael Montesano,
Suzaina Kadir, and Tony Reid were a highlight of my time there.
Foremost among my creditors is my wife Alisa. Without her
patience, editorial eye, and skills as wife and mother, this would not
have been possible. She amazes me. I also owe a debt to my children,
Camille, Bethany, Nathan, Laura, Emma, and Rachel, for long hours
spent at the of¬ce that took time away from them. Their tolerance and
good humor (my daughter one day exasperatedly asked, “Just how
long is this book anyway?”), and daily reminders that I needed to ¬nish
helped spur me on. I also enjoyed commiserating with my brother,
Bret, who, as I was writing the dissertation from which this book
draws, was going through his own Ph.D. program. I refuse to say who
¬nished ¬rst. Finally, I am grateful to my parents for their support and
encouragement and for teaching (or trying to teach) me how to work.
Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies


Political parties created democracy. . . . [M]odern democracy is
unthinkable save in terms of the parties.
E. E. Schattschneider (1942)

Political parties are the weakest link in the system.
Thai politician (1999)

1.1 introduction
This book answers the question of why a party system with a modest
number of nationally oriented political parties emerges in some democ-
racies but not others. This question is of considerable importance given
the staggering number of countries struggling with democratic consoli-
dation in the wake of the so-called third wave of democratization. The
question of how and why certain party systems emerge is equally relevant
for a number of older democracies where perceived weaknesses in existing
party systems have generated proposals for political-institutional reform
(e.g. Great Britain, Italy, and Japan). As E. E. Schattschneider argued
more than sixty years ago, the party system is in many ways the keystone
of any effort to construct a well-functioning democracy (1942). Yet
among the numerous tasks involved in the transition to and consolidation
of democracy, the building of an effective and supportive party system has
arguably proved the most dif¬cult and elusive. Indeed, the sentiment of
the Thai politician quoted above would resonate in many democracies
across the globe, whether developing or developed (see Carothers 2006).

Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies

If an enduring and effective party system is a necessary condition for
an enduring and effective democracy, it is essential that we understand
how and why such party systems develop (or fail to develop). This is a
challenging task, in part because party systems can be studied along
multiple dimensions. These include, but are not limited to, the extent of
ideological polarization within the party system (Sartori 1976), the level
of party system institutionalization (Mainwaring and Scully 1995), the
number of parties (Duverger 1954; Taagepera and Shugart 1989; Cox
1997), the degree of intra-party cohesion (Cox and McCubbins 2001;
Hicken 2002), and the degree of party system nationalization (Chhibber
and Kollman 1998, 2004).1 Rather than attempting to address all of
these dimensions simultaneously, I focus in this book on two features
of the party system: (1) the degree of party system nationalization and (2)
the size of the party system or the number of parties.
I argue that both party system size and nationalization are a function of
aggregation, de¬ned as the extent to which electoral competitors from
different districts come together under a common party banner.2 Where
aggregation is poor, that is where candidates fail to coordinate with other
candidates across districts, the number of political parties proliferates,
and those parties tend to have less than national constituencies. Con-
versely, high levels of aggregation are associated with fewer, more
nationally oriented political parties. The central task of this book is to
explore the factors that affect candidates™ incentives to coordinate or
aggregate across districts.
Obviously aggregation is not the only factor that affects nationaliza-
tion and the number of parties. It is, however, among the most neglected

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