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How party systems Form: The Institutional, Historical and Strategic Foundations of the Post-War ... - page 35 / 42

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and supply. At those expectations, the number and type of candidates that voters are willing to vote for turns out to equal the number and type of candidates that are willing and able to stand for elections.” (Cox 1997, 7) In other words, the voter driven demand for parties stabilized because voters now overwhelmingly chose among a narrow, and stable set of three party alternatives. By contrast, the supply of parties, controlled by politicians, also stabilized as both the external supply of brand new candidates declined and internal supply parties first dropped and then stabilized.

Once both the coordination efforts of politicians and voters reached a stable equilibrium, the principle political dynamic shifted to the quadrennial electoral competition between parties. Politicians thus no longer coordinated efforts to make votes count but, instead, focused on winning them through electioneering; they shifted their attention from politicking over the structure of the party system to competing within it by winning votes. And voters no longer coordinated their expectations about parties’ winning chances but instead concentrated on selecting the party platform closest to their preferences. At that stage, a party system ceased its formation stage and began its transformation through electoral competition. It started to function just is it described in the works inspired by Maurice Duverger, Giovanni Sartori, Anthony Downs and others who theorized about established party systems.

The difference between a party system, whose structures are undergoing formation, and one in transformation is occurring within existing structures helps us understand how the latter ultimately contributes to democratic consolidation. In such a fully formed party system, electioneering and voter choices, rather than inter-electoral politicking, are the key determinants of electoral outcomes. As a result, political conflicts increasingly assume an inter-temporal character that is so critical for democratic consolidation. The value of votes is no longer altered by continuous and oftentimes arbitrary political machinations at various points between elections; instead, votes retain the value that voters assigned them for a full parliamentary term. Politicians no longer try “to fortify their temporary advantages” through ex ante or ex post intra-electoral rule changes and vote-pooling arrangements. The disappearance of coordination strategies means that politicians have less and less ability to mitigate in advance unfavorable elections

Party Switching3/12/2007p.

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