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Party Systems and Corruption in New Democracies

Alisa Voznaya
University of Oxford
Alisa Voznaya
University of Oxford
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper explores the relationship between individual components of a party system, specifically party fragmentation, intra-party competition, inter-party competition, and party institutionalisation, and corruption in new democracies. While previous research has highlighted the importance of political institutions in providing incentives for politicians and constraining voters’ ability to hold them accountable in regard to corrupt exchanges, it presents with insightful, yet contradictory findings. The breakdown of accountability structures, leading to the emergence and/or proliferation of corruption, occurs when voters become unable to identify public officials responsible for poor governmental outcomes and are unable to punish them at the polls. One important institutional feature that remains under-examined is the nature of the party system and its subsequent effects on levels of corruption. In fact, parties and party systems have been highlighted as a potential omitted variable in explaining levels of corruption from an institutional perspective (Kunicova 2006; Lambsdorff 2006). In this paper, I directly test the relationship between aspects of a party system and corruption within new democracies. Using cross-national data on perceived corruption, this paper explores the interaction between party system factors in their influence on regulation of corruption by elected officials. By investigating the levels of existing informational asymmetries, transparency and the functionality and implementation of punitive mechanisms, this study aims to systematically link party system features to the study of political corruption, as well as add to the literature on party organisation in new democracies.