Dr Fernando Casal Bertoa
Party system institutionalisation has been traditionally viewed as an essential condition for the consolidation of democracy (Mainwaring, 1999; Hicken and Kuchonta, 2014; Casal Bértoa, 2017). However, there is a far less agreement in the literature about what institutionalises party systems in the first place.
Seeking to fill this gap, the current project, building on a mixed-method approach, aims to provide an answer to the question of how such institutionalisation occurs and why the degrees of institutionalisation vary across countries. Specifically, and in collaboration with Don S. Lee (Sungkyunkwan University), we conduct a comparative analysis of the process of party system closure in 21 Asian democracies, relatively overlooked regional cases in this literature, since the end of WWII until 2021.
Asia provides excellent cases for such analysis, because its democracies show diverse degrees of institutionalisation in electoral and governmental dimensions of party systems (Lee and Casal Bértoa, 2021). In the end, this variety will lead us to observe wide inter-state variation in party system institutionalisation.
Using a recent innovative index of measuring party system institutionalisation by Casal Bertoa and Enyedi (2021), the paper will first present differences in the levels of party system institutionalisation in Asia in a comparative perspective. Then, after a thorough review of the literature on different sources of systemic institutionalisation (Mainwaring and Bizarro, 2018; Chiaramonte and Emanuele, 2019; Enyedi and Casal Bértoa, 2020), it will state eight different “working” hypotheses (ie party institutionalisation, fragmentation, polarisation, democratic experience, economic development, constitutional type of regime, electoral system design, historical legacies). In our empirical analysis, we test these hypotheses using both statistical analysis and an in-depth case study (ie South Korea).
Thus, in our qualitative analysis section, we use process-tracing to unravel the “causal mechanism” linking each of the variables found significant in the quantitative section and the outcome (ie high party system closure).