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Explaining Party Positions on Decentralization

  • Simon Toubeau and Markus Wagner
Abstract

Debates about decentralization raise cultural questions of identity and economic questions of redistribution and efficiency. Therefore the preferences of statewide parties regarding decentralization are related to their positions on the economic and cultural ideological dimensions. A statistical analysis using data from thirty-one countries confirms this: parties on the economic right are more supportive of decentralization than parties on the economic left, while culturally liberal parties favour decentralization more than culturally conservative parties. However, country context – specifically the degree of regional self-rule, the extent of regional economic disparity and the ideology of regionalist parties – determines whether and how decentralization is linked to the two dimensions. These findings have implications for our understanding of the politics of decentralization by showing how ideology, rooted in a specific country context, shapes the ‘mindset’ of agents responsible for determining the territorial distribution of power.

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The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use
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Centro de Estudios Politicos y Constitucionales (email: simon.toubeau@cepc.es); Department of Methods in the Social Sciences, University of Vienna (email: markus.wagner@univie.ac.at). Both authors contributed equally to this article. Simon Toubeau's research on this project was funded by the ESRC (PTA-026-27-2270) and by the I.S.R.I.B. (BB2B2010-2-23), Brussels-Capital Region. Markus Wagner's research on this project was financed by the Austrian Science Fund under the ‘Austrian National Election Study’ project (AUTNES, S10902-G11). We thank Luis de la Calle, Jan Erk, Martin Ejnar Hansen, Gary Marks, Thomas Meyer, Arjan Schakel, Joost van Spanje, conference participants at the ECPR General Conference 2011 and seminar participants at a CEVIPOL seminar at the Université Libre de Bruxelles for comments on earlier drafts of this article. We thank Michael Tatzber-Schebach for research assistance. All errors remain our own. Data replication sets are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123413000239 and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123413000239.

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