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Life of the Party: The Origins of Regime Breakdown and Persistence under Single-Party Rule

  • Benjamin Smith (a1)

This article develops a theory of single-party regime consolidation to explain the dramatic variation in longevity among these regimes. The strength of the opposition and rent scarcity during party consolidation, it argues, structure the choices available to elites as they decide how to build a support base. A weak opposition and ready access to rents makes a low-cost consolidation possible, but these conditions provide little incentive to build a robust coalition or strong party organization; this trajectory generates weak single-party rule that is likely to collapse in a crisis. Conversely, elites who face a powerful opposition and scarce rents have no choice but to offer potential allies access to policy-making and have powerful incentives to build a strong and broad-based party organization. Ruling parties that emerge from initial conditions like these prove more resilient during later crises. The author conducts an initial test of the argument against paired comparisons of Guinea-Bissau and Tanzania and of Indonesia and the Philippines.

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1 Barbara Geddes, “Authoritarian Breakdown: Empirical Test of a Game Theoretic Argument” (Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Atlanta, September 2–5,1999).

2 To gauge relative longevity rates within the single-party “family,” I estimated the same basic logit models discussed below but included only variants of single-party rule. None of the variants proved significantly more or less durable than others, so it is appropriate to include all of the variants in a sample. The regimes data used here are the original work and property of Barbara Geddes.

3 Indeed, Marcos's Philippines between 1978 and 1986—more than half, and the last eight, of the regime's fourteen years—ranks as a single-party regime on seven of thirteen measures to my mind, using Geddes' coding criteria. In her language, it settled into single-party hybrid status during these years. Coding for the Marcos regime is available from the author.

4 Although these are cross-sectional time-series data, Geddes conducted the analysis for her 1999 article using standard logit models. I tested for temporal sensitivity using Stata 7.0's xtlogit command and found no significant change in the results. Thus, I have retained her use of standard logistic regression and otherwise have used the same models and methods. One minor difference is that I coded the Middle East and North Africa as a single region.

5 The monarchy data are the original work and property of Jason Brownlee.

6 Because of the lack of a regime failure in Mexico between 1950 and 1992, including a dummy for the regime produced a perfect prediction of lack of failure and Stata 7.0's logit and xtlogit commands dropped all of Mexico's observations. And, because PWT data are missing for the USSR in 1991, the regime's collapse in that year does not appear in the models, so the USSR's observations are dropped as well.

7 O'Donnell, Guillermo, Bureaucratic Authoritarianism: Argentina, 1966–1973, in Comparative Perspective (Berkeley: University of California Press 1988), 11.

8 Huntington, Samuel, “Social and Institutional Dynamics of One-Party Systems,” in Huntington, Samuel and Moore, Clement, Authoritarian Politics in Modern Society: The Dynamics of Established One-Party Systems (New York: Basic Books 1970), 14.

9 Moore, Barrington, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (Boston: Beacon Press: 1966).

10 Geddes (fn. 1), 11.

11 Bellin, Eva, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Exceptionalism in Comparative Perspective,” Comparative Politics 36 (January 2005).

12 Indonesia and the Philippines rank identically on both autocracy and democracy scores, with Indonesia ranking 6/1 (autocracy/democracy) in 1974 and 1977 and the Philippines ranking 6/1 during the last three years of martial law rule. Guinea-Bissau and Tanzania rank, during their respective crisis years of 1979–80 and 1980–83, 7/0 and 7/1. Polity's “autocracy” score is a composite measure of several different kinds of repressive or coercive government action.

13 The figures that follow in this paragraph are drawn from Monty G. Marshall, Major Episodes of Political Violence, 1946–2004, (accessed February 22, 2005).

14 Huntington (fn. 8).

15 Selznick, Philip, The Organizational Weapon: A Study of Bolshevik Strategy and Tactics (New York: McGraw-Hill 1952).

16 Shefter, Martin, Political Parties and the State: The American Historical Experience (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1994), 3233.

17 Ibid., 13.

18 Ibid., 27.

19 Brownlee, Jason, “Durable Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2004).

20 Shefter (fn. 16), 30, emphasis added.

21 Peter Gourevitch, Politics in Hard Times: Comparative Responses to International Economic Crises (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press), 9.

22 Indonesia's Golongan Karya (Functional Groups), or GOLKAR, became the public face of the “New Order,” and the Philippines' “Kilusan Bagong Lipunan” (KBL) the political vehicle of Marcos's “New Society Movement.”

23 Mas'oed, Mochtar, “The Indonesian Economy and Political Structure during the Early New Order, 1966–1971” (Ph.D. diss., Ohio State University, Columbus, 1983), 6667.

24 The regional location of these attacks was especially alarming for the new regime: central and eastern Java is the cultural heartland of Indonesia's dominant Javanese majority, and Suharto and many of his closest advisers were born and raised there.

25 Mas'oed (fn. 23), 101–5.

26 Bachtiar, Harsja, “Indonesia,” in Emmerson, D. K., ed., Students and Politics in Developing Nations (New York: Praeger 1968), 190–91; and John Bresnan, Managing Indonesia:The Modern PoliticalEcon-omy (New York: Columbia University Press,), 36–37.

27 KAMI stands for Kesatuan Aksi Mahasiswa Indonesia (Indonesian Student Action Union); kami is also the inclusive word for “we” in Indonesian. KAMI was created in late October 1965 at the home of General (and Minister of Higher Education) Sjarif Thajeb during a meeting of students and anticommunist military leaders.

28 Suryadinata, Leo, Military Ascendancy and Political Culture:A Study ofIndonesia's GOLKAR (Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies 1989), 1013.

29 Boileau, Julian M., GOLKAR: Functional Group Politics in Indonesia (Jakarta: CSIS 1983); Reeve, David, GOLKAR of Indonesia: An Alternative to the Party System (Singapore and Oxford: Oxford University Press 1985); and Suryadinata (fn. 28).

30 Amal, Ichlasul, Regional and Central Government in Indonesian Politics (Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press, 1992.

31 Suara Muhammadiyah, February 1974. See also Bresnan (fn. 26), 136.

32 Bresnan(fn.26), 137.

33 Ibid.

34 Ibid., 142.

35 Ibid., 163.

36 Suryadinata (fn. 28), 76.

37 The Indonesian government had engineered a domestic timber boom in the late 1960s so that timber sales grew dramatically. However, only in 1970, with the enactment of a series of laws aimed at centralizing the industry and tying it closely to the regime, did the government accomplish what it had hoped to politically: turning the timber industry into a well-controlled source of political rents. See Ross, Michael, Timber Booms and Institutional Breakdown in Southeast Asia (New York: Cambridge University Press 2001), 167–76; and Brown, David, “Why Governments Fail to Capture Economic Rent: The Unofficial Appropriation of Rain Forest Rent by Rulers in Insular Southeast Asia between 1970–1999” (Ph.D. diss., University of Washington, 2001), 124–29.

38 Cahyono, Hero, Peranan Ulama Dalam GOLKAR 1971–1980: Dart Pemilu Sampai Malari (The role of the Islamic scholars in GOLKAR 1971–1980: From the general election to the January 15 disaster) (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan 1992); , Hariyadhie, Perspektif Gerakan Mabasiswa 1978 Dalam Percaturan Politik Nasional (Perspectives on the student movement of 1978 in the political arena) (Jakarta: PT Golden Terayon Press 1997).

39 Ruhumbika, G., Towards Ujamaa: Twenty Years of TANU Leadership (Kampala, Nairobi, and Dar Es Salaam: East African Literature Bureau 1974), 510.

40 Shefter (fn. 16).

41 Ruhumbika (fn. 39), 13–18.

42 Tordoff, William, “Regional Administration in Tanzania,” Journal of Modern African Studies 3 (May 1965), 66.

43 Ibid., 64, emphasis added.

44 Miller, Norman N., “The Rural African Party: Political Participation in Tanzania,” American Political Science Review 64 (June 1970), 550.

45 Thanks to Goran Hyden for his suggestions on this topic.

46 Holmquist, Frank, “Class Structure, Peasant Participation, and Rural Self-Help,” in Barkan, J. D., ed., Politics and Public Policy in Kenya and Tanzania (New York: Praeger 1984), 191–92; and Tripp, Aili Marie, “Local Organizations, Participation, and the State in Urban Tanzania,” in Hyden, Goran and Bratton, Michael, eds., Governance and Politics in Africa (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner 1991), 234–36.

47 Hyden, Goran, Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania: Underdevelopment and an Uncaptured Peasantry (London: Heinemann 1980), 3637.

48 Chabal, Patrick, Party, State, and Socialism in Guinea-Bissau, CanadianJournal of African Studies 17, no. 2 (1983), 194.

49 Forrest, Joshua, Guinea-Bissau: Power, Conflict, and Renewal in a West African Nation (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press 1992), 3031.

50 Chabal (fn. 48), 191.

51 Ibid., 197.

52 Forrest, Joshua, “Guinea-Bissau since Independence: A Decade of Domestic Power Struggles,” Journal of Modern African Studies 25 (March 1987), 99100.

53 Ibid., 97.

54 Ibid., 102.

55 Ibid., 104.

56 However, both Marcos and his opponents among the traditional Filipino political elite inflated the strength of the opposition. Marcos did so to rationalize the declaration of martial law; his opposition did so through exaggerated reporting of regional rebellions in newspapers they owned, and did so to try and paint a picture in Manila of a president on the ropes. As Thompson details, neither side's account during this period was very accurate, and both were heavily colored by political motives. See Thompson, Mark R., The Anti-Marcos Struggle: Personalistic Rule and Transition in the Philippines (New Haven: Yale University Press 1995), esp. 37–41, 54–61.

57 The MNLF grew in strength, however, during the first few years of martial law, and by 1975 had forced the regime to the negotiating table, the result of which was a cease-fire granting autonomy to Muslim areas in the southern Philippines and large-scale co-optation of MNLF leaders into the regime's patronage circles. See Thompson (fn. 56), 61–63.

58 Wurfel, David, “Martial Law in the Philippines: The Methods of Regime Survival,” PacificAffairs 50 (Spring 1977), 6.

59 Thanks to Dan Slater for his discussion of anti-Marcos political activity during this period.

60 Ross (fn. 37), 71–73.

61 Ibid., 76, emphasis added.

62 Thompson, Mark R., “The Marcos Regime in the Philippines,” in Chehabi, H.E. and Linz, Juan J., Sultanistic Regimes (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press 1998), 218–21. See also Thompson (fn. 56), 52–54.

63 Thompson (fn. 56), 49–63.

64 See fn. 60.

65 Velasco, Renato S., “Philippine Democracy: Promise and Performance,” in Laothamatas, A., ed., Democratization in Southeast andEastAsia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies 1997), 8687.

66 Richard Nations and Guy Sacerdoti, “Marcos Gives Ground on Some Points, but the Future Is Still Uncertain: The Aquino Legacy,” Far Eastern Economic Review 125 (August 30, 1984), 22.

67 Dauvergne, Peter, Shadows in the Forest: Japan and the Politics of Timber in Southeast Asia (Cambridge: MIT Press 1997), 140.

68 Nations and Sacerdoti (fn. 66).

69 Brownlee (fn. 19).

70 Heydemann, Steven, Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946–1970 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press 1999), 157–61.

71 Ibid., 162.

72 Ellen Lust-Okar, “Institutions, Historical Legacies and the Failure of Liberalization in the Middle East and North Africa” (Manuscript, Yale University, 2004); Benjamin Smith, “Hard Times in the Land of Plenty: Oil, Opposition and Late Development” (forthcoming).

73 See, for example, Lieberman, Evan, “Nested Analysis as a Mixed-Method Strategy for Comparative Research,” American Political Science Review 99 (August 2005), 435–52.

74 David Waldner, “From Intra-Type Variation to the Origins of Types: Recovering the Macro-Analytics of State Building” (Paper presented at the conference, “Asian Political Economy in an Era of Globalization,” Dartmouth College, May 10–11, 2002).

* Thanks to Jason Brownlee, Barbara Geddes, Sam Huntingdon, Goran Hyden, Steve Levitsky, Joel Migdal, Conor O'Dwyer, Dan Slater, David Waldner, participants in the Comparative Politics Workshop at Yale University and Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies dinner series, and three anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments on previous drafts. Special thanks are due to Barbara Geddes and Jason Brownlee for sharing their data with me.

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