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Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies pres.

WCED Lecture. The Authoritarian Origins of Dominant Parties in Democracies: Lessons from India

Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University

Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University
Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University
What explains the electoral dominance of a single party over a prolonged period of time in a democracy? Focusing on the case of the Indian National Congress in India, Ziegfeld argues that authoritarian-era politics can influence the likelihood of single-party dominance after democratization. More specifically, when the authoritarian era's primary socio-political division becomes irrelevant because the democratization process roundly discredits one side of the division, the resulting party system in the democratic period is likely to feature a single major party and a host of small, disorganized, and inexperienced parties. Such asymmetric party competition is likely to produce a dominant party. This explanation accounts for the main features of Congress dominance in India, where the decolonization process discredited most of Congress' colonial-era competitors, leaving it to face a highly fragmented and disorganized opposition against which it could easily win elections. Ziegfeld concludes by reflecting on whether India is, today, on the cusp of a new dominant-party system under the BJP.

Adam Ziegfeld is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Temple University. He is the author of “Why Regional Parties? Clientelism, Elites, and the Indian Party System,” published by Cambridge University Press in 2016, as well as numerous articles on a range of topics related to political parties and elections.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to us at weisercenter@umich.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University
Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Temple University

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