Party-System Nationalization and the Scope of Public Policy: The Importance of Cross-District Constituency Similarity

Brian F. Crisp, Santiago Olivella, Joshua D. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Party-system nationalization is supposed to result in the provision of nationally focused policy, including spending priorities with widespread benefits. Conversely, democracies characterized by parties with geographically narrower patterns of support are suspected of parochial policies, including targetable spending. The authors show that party-system nationalization alone is not sufficient to generate national benefits. In addition, governing parties' constituents must be similar across districts. Nationalization can occur because parties are making the same appeal to similar constituents across different electoral districts, but it can also occur because parties are skillfully tailoring different appeals to diverse constituencies across districts. In the latter case, the authors expect to see the targeted spending priorities typically associated with party systems that are not nationalized. The authors test for the conditional effect of party-system nationalization in 36 elections across 20 countries using a Bayesian multinomial model and find support for their reasoning regarding the importance of cross-district constituency similarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-456
Number of pages26
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • constituency similarity
  • party system nationalization
  • scope of policy
  • social spending

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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