The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Prof. Kenneth Greene Publishes Study on Single-Party Dominance

Tue, September 4, 2007

Abstract of the book: Why have dominant parties persisted in power for decades in countries spread across the globe? Why did most eventually lose? Professor Greene develops a theory of single-party dominance, its durability, and its breakdown into fully competitive democracy. He shows that dominant parties turn public resources into patronage goods to bias electoral competition in their favor and virtually win elections before election day without resorting to fraud or extreme repression. These politicized public resources are available when the public sector is large and the federal public bureaucracy is politically controlled. Deprived of access to similar resources, opposition parties are forced to form as niche parites with appeals that are out of step with the average voter. When the political economy of dominance erodes, the partisan playing field becomes fairer and opposition parties can expand into catchall competitors. Greene shows that this approach accounts for the long dominance of the Mexican PRI (1929-2000) and that its downfall was an unintended consequence of privatizing public enterprises that reduced the party's ability to distribute patronage goods. Greene also shows that his argument illuminates the sources of single-party dominance in other authoritarian regimes (Malaysia and Taiwan) and in democracies (Japan and Italy).

Greene received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and he has been in the Government department since 2002. He has been Visiting Fellow at the Center for Democracy and the Third Sector, Georgetown University, and the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame. He teaches Government courses on political parties, Mexican politics, and research methods. He is the director of the Department's Undergraduate Honors Program.

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