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(Extreme) political polarization and party patronage

Kopecký, Petr; Meyer-Sahling, Jan-Hinrik; Spirova, Maria

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Petr Kopecký

Maria Spirova


The contemporary literature on political parties has identified their gradual but consistent shift away from civil society and towards the state. As parties are becoming ever increasingly dependent on state resources and exclusively interested in governing, as Mair (Ruling the void: The hollowing of western democracy [Verso Books, 2013]) suggested, and patronage is a fundamental to that relationship, the degree and modes of party patronage becomes pivotal to understanding their performance, and the ways they organize and govern. In this paper we argue that party patronage is likely to be structured by the nature of political competition and explore the effects of political polarization, which is a feature of political competition relatively independent from the precise format of a party system, on patronage practices. We advance a theoretical argument which systematically links different types of political polarization with different patterns of party patronage, arguing that extreme polarization incentivizes political parties to develop heavily partisan strategies of party patronage which, in turn, further fuel political polarization. Thus, we also contribute to burgeoning literature on political polarization and its negative effects on the functioning of both political parties and overall political systems.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 9, 2022
Publication Date Mar 9, 2022
Deposit Date May 4, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 4, 2022
Journal Irish Political Studies
Print ISSN 0790-7184
Electronic ISSN 1743-9078
Publisher Informa UK Limited
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 2
Pages 218-243
Keywords Political Science and International Relations; Sociology and Political Science
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Peer Review Statement: The publishing and review policy for this title is described in its Aims & Scope.; Aim & Scope:; Published: 2022-03-09


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