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Causes and Consequences of Decentralization

Collignon Delmar, AS; (2017) Causes and Consequences of Decentralization. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Virtually all governments are multilevel and where change in power distribution has occurred in recent decades, it has been to increase decentralization. However, not all scholars are sure that decentralization has always been beneficial for the quality of government. In addition, it has reduced the relevance of national government and made regions more important for the daily life of citizens as they became responsible for matters ranging from education to health policies to environmental protection. This has changed how governments are structured, the importance of national and sub-national elections and the nature of party competition. The mixed outcomes of decentralization for government quality and its large impact on the life of citizens highlight the importance of studying the causes and consequences of decentralization; this dissertation adds in this direction. This research looks closely at each key element of the multilevel structure, namely parties, regions and national-level factors, and the micro and macro-level relations that link them. Chapter 2 presents the prospective argument that parties in government decentralize towards their sub-national strongholds when they are at risk of future electoral defeat. This argument is tested by applying multilevel models to a sample of 15 European countries and their 141 regions. Chapter 3 shows that decentralization destabilizes the sub-national party system because it increases the risk of decline to new parties. I test this argument using survival models and applying them to a sample of 1,235 regional branches of political parties in 12 European countries. Chapter 3 analyzes the relationship between decentralization and the quality of elections in 67 countries. I demonstrate that it improves the fairness of national elections because it reduces the benefits of committing fraud. This dissertation represents important contributions to the literature on decentralization, multilevel governments, asymmetric federalism, party competition and electoral integrity for several reasons: a) it provides a comprehensive explanation for heterogeneous decentralization that is not conditioned to the presence of regional and ethnic parties; b) it proposes an inclusive measure for the risk of electoral defeat; c) it provides insights into the elements that affect the regional party system; and d) it shows that parties engage in cost-benefit calculations before deciding to commit electoral fraud.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Causes and Consequences of Decentralization
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: Political Science, Quantitative Methods, Decentralization, Party Competition, Quality of elections
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1536354
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