Measuring Party System Change: A Systems Perspective

Stream: Panel 91 - Comparative Politics: Representation, Party Systems and Electoral Systems 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm


The term ‘party system’, explained Giovanni Sartori, refers to the pattern of interactions among major parties. That pattern can be represented as a type and treated as a proper unit of analysis. When ‘party system’ is defined in this way, it becomes clear that the scholarship lacks a direct measure of ‘party system change’. The Sartori approach to party system change is not the only legitimate way to understand this concept, but it does target an undoubtedly important feature of political systems—namely, the stability of major-party interactions. This paper proposes a new indicator, the index of fluidity, which measures the extent of such stability. Applying the index to Africa, we show there is significant cross-national variation in fluidity and weak correlation between fluidity and (Pedersen) volatility.


Zim Nwokora (Presenter), Deakin University
Dr Zim Nwokora is a Lecturer in Politics and Policy Studies at Deakin University. Prior to taking up this position in January 2016, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Griffith University and the University of Melbourne. His research concentrates on political competition and public policy.

Riccardo Pelizzo, Nazarbayev University
Dr Riccardo Pelizzo is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public Policy, Nazarbayev University.