An investigation into the determinants of the size of Indian party systems
Research on the Indian party system has been dominated by descriptive approaches, wherein case studies of a specific party, election or geographic region have been analysed. Cross-country studies that include the Indian data tend to focus only on the national level, paying little attention to the party systems at the sub-national level. My thesis compiles a comprehensive database covering the period 1951 to 2004, and undertakes an empirical investigation into the determinants of the size of Indian party system at the sub-national level. The main focus of my thesis is the state level, but I also undertake analysis at the district level to evaluate Duverger's Law, and the effects of District Magnitude and Electoral reservation on the size of the Indian party system. I investigate the effects of institutional, sociological and contextual variables on the size of the party systems in the Indian states. I find that Assembly Size and Effective Threshold are important institutional variables affecting the size of party system. States with larger Assembly Size tend to have higher number of parties, while higher Effective Thresholds are associated with lower number of parties. Further, higher social and religious heterogeneity increases the number of parties in the Indian states. Federal centralisation and dependence of the states' on the national government emerge as important contextual variables affecting the size of the Indian party system I find that these two factors reduce the number of parties at the state level. My unified regression analysis shows the importance of institutional, sociological and contextual factors in determining the size of the party systems in the Indian states. Finally, I discuss the implications of my findings on the electoral and political system and democracy in India, and identify some important areas of future research.