Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

William M. Reisinger

Abstract

What consequences arise as a result of repeated control of the legislature by the same party or coalition? Are incumbent parties less likely to lose an election the longer they remain in power? Furthermore, as parties remain in power longer and longer, do the factors which electoral scholars have proposed influence elections have less of an impact on election outcomes?

The purpose of this project is to examine the electoral impact of repeated control of the legislature by the same party or ruling coalition. In this project, I argue that the length of time an incumbent party or coalition has maintained control of the legislature is a critical consideration for scholars interested in studying elections. In doing so, I hope to develop a better understanding of elections, the factors which influence election, and the mechanisms by which these factors affect election outcomes.

Central to this project is the phenomenon I call party duration. I define party duration as the number of years the incumbent party has maintained control of the legislature in unicameral legislatures or the lower house in bicameral legislatures. This is the party that has secured enough seats to control the legislature independently in cases where a single party controls the legislature, or the party that serves as the largest party in the ruling coalition that controls the legislature in cases where a single party does not control the legislature by itself.

Using cross-sectional time-series analysis to study a novel dataset, I show that not only does increasing party duration decreases the likelihood that an incumbent party will lose an election, controlling for various other factors, but I find evidence that party duration also affects the effect of other variables which influence elections. Specifically, I focus on the impact that the length of party duration has on the effect of economic conditions on the incumbent party's performance in elections. These findings highlight the importance of party duration, a variable which has previously not received attention from electoral scholars

Public Abstract

In this project, I examine how the length of time an incumbent party remains in power, affects the outcome of elections. Specifically, I consider how increasing the length of time an incumbent party remains in office affects the likelihood that party loses an election.

I created a novel dataset to study party duration, defined as the number of years an incumbent party has controlled the legislature. Using cross-sectional time-series analysis, I find that increasing party duration not only decreases the likelihood that an incumbent party loses an election, but that it also decreases the effect of other variables which have been shown to impact elections. Using a multiplicative interaction, I find that increasing party duration can insulate incumbent parties from the electoral impact of economic conditions, another variable political scientists have established to influence elections.

This project has important implications both for political scientists interested in studying elections and citizens of democratic countries which use elections to hold elected governments accountable.

Keywords

publicabstract, Cross-Sectional Time-Series Analysis, Economic Voting, Elections, Electoral Stability, Party Duration

Pages

xvi, 279 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 259-279).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Jason John Thomas

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