Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Essays on the economic origins of party-system structure and political participation
Author: Matakos, Konstantinos
ISNI:       0000 0004 2748 8122
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This dissertation explores the economic origins of party-system structure and the role of economic institutions in determining political outcomes and electoral partici- pation. Chapter 2 studies the impact of unemployment on electoral fragmentation. Employing a four-party model of redistributive politics with two dimensions of choice (economic policy and ideology), we uncover a non-monotonic relationship between unemployment and fragmentation. In equilibrium, big parties woo the unemployed voters who are relatively more willing to switch their votes in response to generous redistribution. When the tax-base is large enough, allowing for more redistribution, an initial rise in unemployment favors the big parties by increasing the amount of the target constituency that is up for grabs. We identify two necessary conditions for opportunistic parties to be able to capitalize on this relationship: (i) the exis- tence of an e¤ective public redistribution mechanism and (ii) the lack of institutional checks and balances. Using data from OECD economies, we confirm empirically the relationship between economic and political outcomes. We find that variation in unemployment alone can account for two-thirds of the variation in party-system fragmentation. Using data from Greek local elections, to exploit the information shock, we test the role of institutional constraints in limiting opportunistic redis- tribution and increasing fragmentation. Overall, Chapter 2 lays a theoretical and empirical framework that relates economic outcomes with party-system structure. It also provides a special interest politics justification for redistribution. Finally, it highlights the importance of institutional constraints and economic institutions in guaranteeing political pluralism and power-sharing. Chapter 3, using again data from Greek elections explores empirically the link between economic adversity, trust and voter turnout. It identifies two links: one normative, declining trust in the party-system, and one rationalistic, the weakening of party-group linkages. We find that the fiscal shock caused a collapse in voter turn-out. Moreover, the decline was larger in regions with relatively larger public sector. Using suitable instruments from the institutional set-up of Ottoman Greece, we document a negative relationship between economic adversity and voter turn-out operating through both links (trust and party-group linkages). We also show that the size of the public sector acts as a catalyst in exacerbating the e¤ects of economic shocks on turn-out. The policy implications are clear: financial or institutional measures that reduce the size of public sector and aim at increasing transparency, trust and voter participation might have a second-order negative effect on turnout by reducing party-voter linkages. For Greece, the latter effect dominates, raising questions for the future of political participation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick ; A.G. Leventis Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HB Economic Theory ; JF Political institutions (General)