Aggregation has strong implications for the latter two sets of
questions via the affect of aggregation on the number of parties and
nationalization. To begin with, there is a clear (though not one-to-one)
positive relationship between the number of political parties and the
number of actors. The more parties there are in a given party system,
the more actors there are likely to be in the policymaking process. As
more actors become involved in the policy process, the likelihood that
one actor‚Ä™s attempts to change the status quo will be blocked by other
actors with different interests increases (Tsebelis 2002).
A good deal of the recent literature on the political economy of
policymaking has focused on the number of actors; however, it is not
enough to simply count the number of veto players. We need to know
something about the interests and incentives of those actors. The
broader an actors‚Ä™ constituency is, the stronger will be the incentives to
pursue broad, public-regarding policies over those policies targeted to
narrow, particularistic interests (Bueno de Mesquita et al. 2003;
Hicken, Satyanath, and Sergenti 2005; Hicken and Simmons 2008).
Aggregation, through its inÔ¬‚uence on degree party system nationali-
zation, can have a profound effect on the nature of policy makers‚Ä™
constituencies. Ceteris paribus, the greater the degree of party system
nationalization, the broader the constituency to which those parties
To be more speciÔ¬Āc, when there is a high degree of aggregation,
political competition at the national level occurs between political
parties that each have support across most of the regions in the country
(as opposed to competition occurring across highly regionalized or
localized parties). As a result, debates and conÔ¬‚icts over policies at the
national level are more likely to lead to the parties competing to offer
comprehensive beneÔ¬Āts that affect people spread across most regions of
the country. By contrast, when political competition at the national
level occurs between parties that represent speciÔ¬Āc subnational con-
stituencies, the outcomes of policy debates and conÔ¬‚icts lead to two
potentially damaging kinds of public policy outcomes: (a) an over-
supply of pork-barrel policies resulting from log-rolls across regions
that do not beneÔ¬Āt the broader population but end up beneÔ¬Āting local
political and economic elites and/or (b) an undersupply of nationally
focused public goods. Depending on the country, these latter, geo-
graphically targeted policy beneÔ¬Āts will end up targeting speciÔ¬Āc eth-
nic, religious, industrial, linguistic groups, but they will be less
comprehensive and all-encompassing than if the parties were nation-
Moreover, the degree of nationalization can affect bargaining
between and within the executive and legislature. Bargaining involves
trades or side payments between different actors ‚Ä“ the more actors, the
more side payments that must be made in order to pass a given policy.
The question then becomes what is being traded? In some cases, bar-
gaining consists of actors bargaining over and trading concessions in
Building Party Systems in Developing Democracies
national policies. However, bargaining may also take the form of
bargaining over, and trades in, pork and particularism. The extent to
which actors trade in pork versus public policy is strongly inÔ¬‚uenced by
the degree of nationalization. As argued previously, where the party
system is not nationalized, politicians may lack strong incentives to
provide national goods/policies. In such a system log-rolling across
geographic regions will be rampant, while national policies will be
under-supplied. Where the party system is highly nationalized, how-
ever, bargaining will tend to be over broader policy, and trades will
primarily come in the form of policy concessions (Hicken 2002). My
own research agenda includes a closer examination of the implications
of aggregation and party system nationalization for policymaking and
the propensity to provide needed national public goods.
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