8 Party system institutionalization

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Party system institutionalization A travelling framework? Fernando Casal Bértoa

Introduction

For most political scientists, Peter Mair’s academic work is associated with the analysis of Western European party systems. However, his interests went far beyond that particular region (see, for example, Mair 1997, Gallagher et al. 2011).1 One example is his publication on post-communist party systems in which he suggested – together with the author of this chapter – a systematic mapping of the patterns of inter-party competition in thirteen Eastern European party systems (Casal Bértoa and Mair 2012).2 This study did not, however, ‘devote much effort to evaluating specific explanations of the variations that [we]re identified’ (Casal Bértoa and Mair 2012: 86), even though we had already distinguished various elements hampering the stabilization of party systems in post-communist Europe (2012: 109–10). It is within this context that, departing from the fact that ‘focusing on parties and party systems … remain[s] a basic if not the central theme for examining the quality of … liberal democracy … but also its progress towards and achievement of democratic consolidation’ (Pridham 1990: 2). This chapter constitutes an attempt to delve into the sources of party system institutionalization (PSI) in general, trying to understand which factors contribute to hindering this process in particular. Following Mair’s example of examining how well Western European theoretical frameworks could be applied to new post-communist democracies (Mair 1997: 175–98), this chapter builds on recent work on how such institutionalization took place in four party systems within the Visegrad region (Casal Bértoa 2012) and applies the explanatory model there developed to a different region (the Black Sea), to provide an answer to the question of the determinants of systemic institutionalization in Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Their obvious similarities reinforce the argument for treating them together as a compact small-N comparison. This chapter attempts to capture the extent to which Peter Mair’s work has influenced the PSI literature in general and my personal work in particular. The first part of the chapter describes the conceptualization and the operationalization of PSI. In the second part, the concept of PSI is further developed. Finally, the theoretical framework is applied to the countries of the Black Sea. The chapter concludes with a summary of the main findings.

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Conceptualization of party system institutionalization

As extensively explained elsewhere (Casal Bértoa 2011), the debate around the notion of PSI dates back to the appearance of the term almost fifty years ago. Like most scholars after him, Huntington (1965, 1968) did not spend much time on the conceptualization of the notion that he ‘created’. In fact, after defining it in just one sentence, he preferred to dedicate the rest of his work to explaining its possible operationalization. As a result, and notwithstanding some attempts to clarify its meaning (mainly Randall and Svåsand 2002, Meleshevich 2007), trying to find a definition of PSI is like (using Sartori’s 1976: 297 analogy) going on a ‘fishing expedition’. However, and because for an empirical analysis to be valid it is essential first to establish a sound conceptual base, ‘getting the concepts right is [even if difficult] essential’ (Mair 2008: 178). It is only then that we (as scholars) can take care of matching such well-defined concepts with the most appropriate indicators (Adcock and Collier 2001). Even though scholars have distinguished up to nine different ‘dimensions’ of PSI, most definitions of the concept have pointed to a common element: namely, that of stability and persistence (Meleshevich 2007: 12, Casal Bértoa 2011: 26). In this context, Mair’s (1996) work3 was the first to consider ‘stability-cumclosure’ as the main (if not unique) dimension of PSI. Building on Rokkan (1970) and Sartori (1976), and conflating the notions of ‘freezing’, ‘systemness’, ‘stability’ (that is, closure) and ‘predictability’, Mair arrives at the following conclusion: ‘The more predictable a party system is, the more it is a system as such, and hence the more institutionalized it has become. This is also what freezing is about’ (2001: 38). Bearing in mind all that has been said, and drawing on Huntington’s (1968: 12) original definition of institutionalization as a ‘process’ and Sartori’s (1976: 44) characterization of a party system’s core as ‘the [partisan] interactions’, an obvious conclusion is to define PSI as the process by which the patterns of interaction among political parties become routine, predictable and stable over time (Casal Bértoa 2012). In other words, party systems may be considered to be institutionalized when parties cooperate, collaborate and colligate in a standardized and structured way, presenting voters with clearly stable political alliances and, therefore, predictable governmental alternatives (Casal Bértoa and Mair 2012).

Operationalization of party system institutionalization

Similarly to what we have seen regarding its conceptualization, there is also a great deal of disagreement among scholars about how PSI should be measured. Although almost every writer has come up with his own operationalization of the notion (Casal Bértoa and Enyedi 2014), the most widely used indicators employed to capture the degree of PSI in a polity are, Pedersen’s (1979) index of electoral volatility and/or Laakso and Taagepera’s (1979) ‘effective’ number of parties.

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Although this is not the place to start a discussion about the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of both concepts,4 it is important to note that none of the above-cited indicators captures the stability in the patterns of partisan interaction. On the one hand, and as Mair (1997) seminally pointed out, the structure of inter-party competition may remain stable despite significant changes in electoral preferences (for example, Denmark in 1973, Greece in 2012). On the other hand, the number of political forces (either in the electorate or in parliament) by itself tells us nothing about the way in which parties interact. Indeed, once again it was Mair (who put us on the right path when he stated that:

numbers as such cannot allow us to distinguish the different mechanisms … in that they cannot tell us whether such a system is likely to be characterised by competing coalitions and wholesale alternation in government, or by overlapping coalitions and partial alternation. (Mair 2006: 65)

This is not to say that the number of parties does not matter but it is clear that, for the reasons cited above, the format of a party system (to use’s Sartori’s terminology) alone ‘renders meaningless any notion of party systems’ in general and PSI in particular (Mair 2006: 64). Thus, it seems clear that we need a cross-national theoretical framework that captures the degree to which the system of interactions between the parties in a given polity has stabilized over time. Not surprisingly, such tools can be found in Mair’s own work on the closure (and/or openness) of Western European party systems after World War II (1996, 1997). Building on the idea that ‘the most important aspect of party systems … is the structure of inter-party competition, and especially the competition for government’ (Mair 1997: 206; emphasis in the original), he arrived at the conclusion that it was in the competition between political parties for public office that the ‘defining’ arena of PSI should be found (Mair 2007). Although Mair, together with Bardi (Bardi and Mair 2008), recognized that such interactions could also take place in other arenas (such as electoral, parliamentary), he himself admitted that: if party systems are to be predictable … then it is at th[e governmental] level that the predictions are likely to apply. In other words, the more structured a pattern of competition, the more likely it is that the potential governing alternatives will not only be identifiable, but also reasonable familiar and predictable. (Mair 2001: 39)

In particular, Mair distinguished three different features, which, dealing with ‘the historical patterns of government formation and alternation in any given system’ (Mair 2001: 39), could allow scholars to measure the level of structural stabilization, namely:

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alternation of government, or how much the party composition of the government changes when changing over time; predictability of governing formulae; that is, the degree to which different cabinets are composed of identical parties each time they regain power; and access to government, meaning the extent to which political parties in the system have the chance to participate in the government over time. (Mair 1996: 90–7)

In sum, Mair (2007: 39) considered party systems to be strongly institutionalized if (1) alternations of governments are either total or none; (2) governing alternatives are stable over a long period of time; and (3) some parties (‘outsiders’) are permanently excluded from participation in national government. Conversely, weakly institutionalized party systems are to be characterised by (1) partial alternations of governments; (2) no stable compositions of governing alternatives; and (3) access to government granted to all relevant parties. Inspired by this original analytical framework, scholars of party politics started to capture the degree of systemic stability/change in different Western (for example, Müller and Fallend 2004), Southern (for example, Linz and Montero 2001) and Eastern (Toole 2000, O’Dwyer 2006) European democracies. Trying to advance Mair’s ‘qualitative’ applications and ‘subjective’ assessments, MüllerRommel (2005) suggested a three-scale quantitative operationalization.5 In a clear attempt to improve all of the above-mentioned operationalizations, and using Woldendorp et al.’s (2000) dataset on cabinet composition, Mair (2007) himself proposed a series of continuous indicators.6 First of all, and adapting Pedersen’s well-known index of electoral volatility, he designed the Index of Government Alternation (IGA), which adds the net change in percentage of ministers (including the prime minister) gained and lost by each party from one government to the next and then divides by two, to measure the degree to which governing alternations are partial (0) or wholesale (100). Second, he created an ‘adjusted’ measure (later called Index of Innovative Alternation or IIA),7 which was designed to capture the degree of innovation in terms of the governing formulae adopted in a polity. Interestingly enough, in his 2007 seminal article, Mair left the third and final component of closure unmeasured. Only three years later he created – together with the author – the Index of Openness (IO) (Casal Bértoa and Mair 2010).8 Although a clear improvement in relation to the previously used qualitative and (purely dichotomous) operationalization, Mair’s ‘continuous’ operationalizations of closure presented two main problems: namely that (1) they could not be easily integrated in a single ‘composite’ index, and (2) they were not yet perfectly adapted to Mair’s original three-component framework. In particular, the IGA totally ignored no alternation as a component of wholesale alternation. Almost contemporaneously, Casal Bértoa and Enyedi (2014) proposed an index of party system closure which, taking years as time units and the percentage of ministers as counting units, tried to resolve the abovementioned nuisances. Thus, and because wholesale alternation (both total and none) can be reflected by

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scores at both extremes of the ministerial volatility (MV) scale (both 100 and 0, respectively), they propose to calculate the IGA on the basis of the following two rules: •



If the MV initial score obtained according to the formula described above is lower than 50 (that is, perfect partial alternation), the former figure will be subtracted from 100. If MV is higher than 50, the IGA will be equal to the initial MV score.

This indicator would later be developed to make IGA perfectly compatible with the other two sub-indexes (both IFA and the Index of Closure or IC) so all three went from 0 to 100.9 In a clear attempt to allow for the calculation of a unique ‘composite’ index of closure averaging the final scores for the three sub-indexes, Casal Bértoa and Enyedi (2014) proposed measuring both familiarity (of the governing formula) and closure (of access to public office), rather innovation and openness. In particular, they suggested capturing the former (familiarity) by measuring the percentage of ministries belonging to familiar combination of parties, and the latter (access closure) by simply taking into consideration the percentage of ministries belonging to parties that had been previously in government.10

Party system institutionalization in the Black Sea countries: an overview

The level of PSI in the Black Sea region is shown in Figure 8.1. The seven countries in the area are ranked in terms of their stability in the structure of inter-party competition for government during the period from 1991 to 2011. The most evident conclusion derived from these summary data is that party systems in the Black Sea region have institutionalized at different rates and in different ways. At first sight, it is possible to distinguish two certainly opposite paradigms: namely, highly institutionalized (iPSI ≥ 2) Georgia and totally under-institutionalized (iPSI ≤ –2) Ukraine and Russia11 (respectively). While in the former, party politics has been dominated since the moment of democratic transition by basically one party (that is, Saakashvili´s United National Movement), in the other two nations political parties played a secondary role until very recently with most cabinet composed by a majority of independent or non-partisan (proximate to the President) political figures. Interestingly enough, while this situation started to change in Ukraine in 2002, it continues to be the rule in Russia even now. As also shown in Figure 8.1, the remaining party systems in the region cluster around the centre. Still, a relatively clear cleavage can be observed between weakly institutionalized Moldova, Romania and Turkey (iPSI close to 1) and noninstitutionalized Bulgaria (iPSI close to 0). Thus, in both Moldova and Romania government alternations have tended to be wholesale (either total or none) with two different blocs of parties confronting each other almost from the very beginning (Communist vs. in Moldova; Social Democrats vs. Liberal-conservatives in

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5 4 3 2 1 0 –1

Ukraine (1994–)

Russia (1999–2004)

Bulgaria (1991–)

Romania (1996–)

Turkey (1983–)

Moldova (1994–)

Georgia (2004–)

–2 –3 –4 –5 PSI

Figure 8.1 Black Sea party systems in comparative perspective

Source: author calculations; all countries included score 6 or higher on the polity2 variable from the Polity IV dataset 2012

Romania). On the contrary, in Bulgaria, alternations have tended to be mostly total after elections (except in 2005) but always partial between elections with new parties (such as the National Movement for Stability and Progress, New Time, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) joining the spoils of office and, therefore, making it difficult for governing formulas to close. Interestingly enough, Turkey lies somewhere in the middle, between these two modes of inter-party competition. Thus, while the 1983–1991 and the 2002–2011 periods have been dominated by just two parties (the Motherland Party/ANAP and Justice and Development Party, respectively), between 1992 and 2001, alternations have tended to be partial, characterized by the accession of new parties almost at every time of government formation in different (always innovative) combinations (from 1992 until 1996: the Right Path Party with ANAP, with Social Democratic Populist Party or with the Welfare Party; from 1997 up to 2001: the Democratic Left Party alone or with ANAP and the Democratic Turkish Party or the Nationalist Movement Party).

Explaining differences of party system institutionalization in the Black Sea countries

How can the variation in the degree of systemic institutionalization in the Black Sea region be explained? To find convincing answers to this question, we have developed a theoretical framework that consists of four explanatory factors: party institutionalization, the format of party systems, the type of regime and the

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structure of cleavages in a political system (for more details about the framework see: Casal Bértoa 2012). First, party institutionalization is essential to the institutionalization of the party system as a whole (Mainwaring and Scully 1995; Toole 2000). As individual political parties institutionalize (that is, develop stable roots in society and constitute solid organizations), they are likely to remain consistent in terms of ideology and interact only with other like-minded parties. By making party choices more stable and coherent for the electorate, parties and their leaders help voters to make the political expression of social cleavage more consistent, thereby avoiding unexpected consequences in terms of the balance of power, as well as instability in the patterns of inter-party competition for government. If, on the contrary, totally different parties concur at elections every time, (systemic) stability will not take place, as party elites will not be able to rely on the expected behaviour of the actors they already know (Moser 2001: 36; Rose and Munro 2009). Second, the particular format of a party system also plays a central role (Sartori (1976). The lower the number of parties: (1) the lower the transaction costs and the potential conflicts are likely to be; (2) the fewer the electoral shifts, with the implications this may have for the balance of power between parties; and (3) the lower the number of possible interactions and, hence, the greater the simplicity/stability of the patterns of cooperation and collaboration (Mainwaring and Zoco 2007; Sjöblom 1968). On the contrary, if the effective number of political parties (ENPP) is ‘extreme’ (that is, ENPP ≥ 4) than we find: (1) a higher probability that the parties in government already formed part of the previous executive (partial alternation); (2) a higher number of possible party combinations at the time of cabinet formation (innovative formula); (3) a higher possibility of any party being incorporated into office (open access). Third, the type of regime in question can also have an important impact on the process of institutionalization. While, in parliamentary systems, the election of the head of state has neither a positive nor a negative effect on the patterns of partisan interaction, in semi-presidential regimes, the double electoral process has the potential to change the existing structure of competition by encouraging the formation of innovative alliances or the inclusion of a party or parties not foreseen at the time of the legislative elections. One should not forget that because presidential candidates need to appeal to a wider segment of the population, they are also forced to seek the cooperation of an eclectic range of political forces, at times even across ideological lines (Casal Bértoa 2012). The main implication being that one or more of them may ‘claim to represent the decisive electoral bloc … [making] demands accordingly’ (Linz 1990: 58); for example, participation in government. Finally, according to Bartolini and Mair’s (1990) conceptualization and adapting Lipset and Rokkan’s (1967) sociological framework, I maintain (Casal Bértoa 2012, 2014b) that it is not so much the number or the type/strength of cleavages in a political system but the way in which they are structured that really explains variances in the degree of systemic institutionalization. Thus, in those party

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systems in which there is only one cleavage, or various but overlapping cleavages, institutionalization will be enhanced, as those cumulative cleavages will structure both political parties and voters into two clearly defined alternative blocs, making the structure of partisan competition stable and predictable over time. On the contrary, in those countries in which cleavages are cross-cutting, PSI will certainly be hindered, as parties will have to cooperate across dividing ideological lines, which will make possible alliance ad hoc, ephemeral and unpredictable.

Empirical findings for the Black Sea countries

Although I mainly focus on the four explanatory factors mentioned above, it is important to note that comparative political analysis has offered other possible explanations for the distinct levels of PSI in new and old democracies, such as historical (Kitschelt et al. 1999), economic (Mainwaring and Zoco 2007; Tavits 2005), temporal (Kitschelt 1995; Mainwaring and Zoco 2007), and international (Vachudová 2008) factors. The following analysis shows the degree to which political parties in the Black Sea region are institutionalized. Table 8.1 demonstrates that there are striking variations in the extent to which political parties have been institutionalized in the different countries of the Black Sea area (PI).12 Interestingly enough, and to the point that variance in the level of party institutionalization largely associates with differences in the degree of systemic institutionalization, I may conclude saying that the process of PSI in Georgia, Turkey, Romania and, to a lesser extent, in Moldova was fostered by the institutionalization of those countries’ individual political parties themselves. On the other hand, weak party institutionalization is to be blamed for the rather low degree of systemic institutionalization in Bulgaria and Ukraine but especially in Russia. In this sense, a ‘causal’ relationship between these two variables is suggested.

Table 8.1 Sources of party system institutionalization in the Black Sea Country

Georgia Moldova Turkey Romania Bulgaria Russia Ukraine

Period

2004–2011 1994–2011 1983–2011 1996–2011 1991–2011 1999–2004 1994–2011

PI

14.4 13.3 19 14.3 12.6 7 12.2

ENPP 1.4 2.7 3 3.7 3.1 5.9 6.9

ToR 0 1 1 0 0 0 0

CCross 0.86 0.88 0.91 0.93 0.85 0.92 0.83

Notes: Type of regime (ToR): 1 = parliamentarism; 0 = presidentialism CCross = degree of cross-cutting, ENPP = effective number of political parties, PI = party institutionalization Sources: Selway (2009: 79–81) and author calculations

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Comparison among the seven cases clearly suggests that the number of parliamentary parties in a system, measured according to Laakso and Taagepera s (1979) index (ENPP), offers a very powerful explanation of the variance in the degree of institutionalization between the different party systems, with low levels of fragmentation being associated with high mean institutionalization (Georgia, Moldova and Turkey) and high fractionalization being associated with low systemic institutionalization (Russia and Ukraine). The only exception to this seems to be Romania, as the Bulgarian party system, even if not highly fractionalized, has had on average much more ENPP than Georgia, Moldova or Turkey (to a lesser extent). Interestingly, these findings do not confirm Sartori’s (1976) concerns about the perils of ‘extreme pluralism’, as the only party systems with such a type of format are the only ones to be under-institutionalized. In this view, the Romanian party system, characterized by ‘moderate pluralism’ (ENPP < 4) as early as in the year 2000, constitutes less of an exception. The fact that the only two parliamentary regimes in the region are at the top of the institutionalization ranking provides strong support for the positive relationship between the two variables (type of regime). Thus, in all these countries, the head of state has been elected in the majority of cases either by the super-majoritarian governing coalition (for example, Özal in 1989, Demirel in 1993, Gül in 2007) or as a result of a compromise (for example, Sezer in 2000, a non-partisan chief justice in the constitutional court) among governing and opposition forces. On the contrary, in almost all the semi-presidential regimes under investigation, the composition of electoral alliances and governmental coalitions has been determined at some point by patterns of inter-party collaboration established at the time of presidential elections. Russia, with the over-presidentialization of the party system, constitutes the best example, with an important number relying exclusively on the President’s support, even sometimes against the parliamentary majority. In Romania, where both presidential and legislative elections were concurrent until 2008, the effect of the former on the latter was continuous. The same can be said of Georgia, where the continuous dominance of United National Movement (EMN) has affected the structure of partisan competition in the opposite, although not very convenient, way: namely, over-institutionalizing it. In Ukraine, for example, the cooperation of opposition parties (for example, Tymoshenko’s ‘Fatherland’ and Yushchenko’s ‘Our Ukraine’) at the time of the 2004 presidential elections definitely affected the way in which cabinets were later formed in Ukraine. In Bulgaria, for instance, the 2005 governmental coalition between the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Turkish minority Dvizhenie za Prava i Svobodi (DPS), political enemies since the horrific ethnic persecution and violent discrimination perpetrated on the latter by the Communist precursor of the former in the 1980s (Ganev 1995), has its roots in the 2001 presidential elections when the DPS provided essential electoral support to the BSP’s candidate, Purvanov. However, Moldova constitutes the most fascinating case among all these countries, as it represents a unique instance of regime change between semi-presidentialism and parliamentarism (in 2000). In this sense, it provides a ‘natural experiment’ for examining whether change in the mode of election of the

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head of state has any influence in the level of PSI. Thus, the first Moldovan (direct) presidential elections altered the existing structure of competition, as President Lucinschi, who ran as an independent in the 1996 contest, decided to collaborate with his former party (the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova), which had already lost its parliamentary majority, as a response to its support during the second round (Roper 2008: 115).13 In clear contrast, both the successful Moldovan presidential elections (2001 and 2005)14 and the disastrous contests in Moldova (2009)15 responded to the already existing structure of competition characterized by the rather polarized confrontation between the parties of the Communist-led government against the parties of the ‘democratic’ opposition. Finally, Table 8.1 shows the degree of cross-cutting for the two most important cleavage dimensions in each of the countries. With the exception of Bulgaria and Ukraine, it seems that the lower the degree of cleavage cross-cutting, the higher the level of institutionalization observed in a party system. Moreover, in the case of the more institutionalized party systems (Georgia, Moldova, Turkey and Romania) the differences in the degree of cross-cutting among countries and the level of PSI run almost parallel to each other.

Conclusion

Although PSI as a concept dates back almost fifty years, empirical applications of the notion began only at the end of the twentieth century. As in many other areas (such as bloc volatility, cartel party), Mair soon placed himself at the avant garde by improving the concept itself (1996, 1997, 2001) as well as developing sophisticated indicators that would allow scholars to accurately measure it (2007). In an attempt to complete part of Mair’s unfinished work, this chapter has evaluated various explanations of the variations in institutionalization observed in seven new post-authoritarian party systems in the Black Sea region. In summary, most (if not all) of the arguments suggested in Casal Bértoa and Mair (2012) have been confirmed: party system institutionalization is higher in systems with strong party institutionalization, high legislative concentration, cleavage cumulation and parliamentarism. PSI is less established in more fractionalized, organizationally less rooted, semi-presidential and sociopolitically cross-cutting party systems. In that sense, Mair’s original theoretical concept has indeed travelled, since it does not only explain party system institutionalization in Western European countries but also in the Black Sea region.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the participants in two different panels at the Academic Swiss Caucasus Net International Conference, held at the Kadir Has University (Istanbul, 11–13 October 2012) and at the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies and the Central Eurasian Studies Society Joint Regional Conference, held at Nazarbayev University (22–24 May 2014) for their valuable comments on previous versions of this chapter.

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6 7 8

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Together with doctoral dissertations on political parties and party systems in Western Europe, Mair successfully supervised PhD students working on the Visegrad countries, Romania and even Argentina. He is also responsible for the inclusion of Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary among the countries included in the first edition of the European Journal of Political Research Political Data Yearbook in December 1992. Included in Casal Bértoa and Mair (2010) were also Albania, Macedonia and Moldova. Although Mair implicitly used ‘party system stability’ as a surrogate for PSI in his seminal ‘Party Systems and Structures of Competition’ (1996), it was not until 2001 that both concepts were finally conflated. For a thorough criticism of electoral volatility as the main indicator of PSI, see Enyedi (1998), Kreuzer and Pettai (2003) or, more recently, Casal Bértoa (2014a). For a similar criticism in relation to systemic fractionalization, see Casal Bértoa (2012: 459, 2014a). While a score of 0 was assigned to no alternation, innovation and open access, wholesale alternation, familiar formula and closed access were allocated a score of 1. Partial alternation was given a 2. In their assessment of the patterns of inter-party competition in Eastern Europe, Enyedi and Casal Bértoa (2011) also applied this operationalization, although in their study both wholesale and no alternation were conflated (1), while partial alternation was clustered together with innovation and open access (0). As explained elsewhere (Casal Bértoa and Enyedi 2014), Mair also created an indicator for the ‘frequency’ of party composition changes. Because it was not meant to capture any of the particular features explained in his original framework, I do not deal with it here. See Casal Bértoa and Mair (2012: 90). The IIA divided the total number of cabinets with previously unseen combinations of parties by the total number of cabinets minus one. This index measures the weight of new parties in a particular cabinet, as well as the weight that such governments (with new parties) enjoy in the party system as a whole. This clearly simplifies the calculation of the composite index which originally required the use of ‘z-scores’. The latter still remains as an alternative in those cases when centering the index around the mean is required (or simply more convenient). For particular details on the calculation of the iPSI, please see Casal Bértoa and Enyedi (2014) or Casal Bértoa (2012). Please note here that, contrary to the other party systems in the analysis (where the end point is December 2011), the Russian party systems are only examined between 2000 and 2006. Both previously and after this period, the Polity IV (2012) score is clearly below 6. Party institutionalization is measured by the average party age (Dix 1992; Tavits 2005). Snegur’s defeat at Lucinschi’s hands constituted also an obstacle to governmental collaboration between their respective two supportive political forces, that is, Democratic Party of Moldova and Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova/Democratic Convention of Moldova (Roper 2008). In 2001, the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) easily managed to have its secretary-general (Voronin) elected during the first round of voting. In 2005, the ‘ad hoc’ support of the Christian Democratic People’s Party to the PCRM did not have any consequences for the party system. The May/June 2009 presidential elections also responded to the above-cited pattern: even if the ruling party (Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova, PCRM) alone

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could not have their candidate elected as it was just one vote short of the required majority), it could still block (sixty seats) any attempt of the opposition to get their candidate elected. President Voronin then dissolved the parliament and new legislative elections took place in July. Unfortunately, the result was again a deadlock parliament where the PRCM had forty-eight seats, enough to prevent the now governing ‘democratic’ coalition from appointing a new president.

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