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Political parties

This page forms part of the Governance Theme section on 'political systems'. DFID's approach to responsive and accountable government includes a focus on political parties. This page contains a series of key texts which explore issues including party finance and party system institutionalisation.


Key texts


International IDEA 2003, Handbook on the Funding of Parties and Election Campaigns, International IDEA, Stockholm (forthcoming).
(Full summary and ability to access document available early in 2003 when the document is to be published)
Sample chapters are currently available at


Williams, R. 2000. 'Aspects of party finance and political corruption' in Williams, R. ed. Party Finance and Political Corruption, Palgrave, London.
This chapter from 'Party Finance and Political Corruption' explores the different dimensions of the complex interrelationship of party finance and political corruption. The introduction serves as a theoretical framework to address three major issues: (1) the current problems of party finance and political corruption in a specific country or region; (2) the nature and impact of previous reform efforts; and (3) the prospects for and obstacles to future reform. The chapter goes on to discuss the increasingly important debate on party finance and political corruption.
Full document available online


Mainwaring, S. 1998, 'Rethinking party systems in the third wave: the importance of party system institutionalisation,' Helen Kellog Insitute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame, Working Paper no. 260.
This working paper, from the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, addresses the question of whether institutionalised systems which are weak function differently to those which are well-established, examining the implications for democracy of differences in party systems institutionalisation. It argues that we need to rethink some important theoretical and comparative issues related to our broad understanding of party systems based on the experience of new democracies around the world.
Full document available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service."


Crook, Richard C.,1997,'Winning coalitions and ethno-regional politics: the failure of the opposition in the 1990 and 1995 elections in Cote D'Ivoire African affairs,' Journal of the Royal African Society, vol. 96,no.383, 215-42.
This African Affairs article looks at how the ruling party in Côte DIvoire has been able to win elections since 1990 by using incumbency to present itself as an organisation capable of forming a working coalition. Over this period opposition parties have been unable to escape their extremely localised strongholds. Multi-party elections have therefore had a limited impact on the dominance of the former single party, and have been unable to generate the popular pressure required to lead to the ousting of entrenched political elites.
Full document available through: BLDS document delivery service. Please access full summary and then click on the link for "BLDS Document Delivery Service."


Department for International Development Governance Department 2001, Political Party Financing: Problem, Solutions and Action, DFID, London.
Political party financing can distort the electoral process and is a major motive for corruption in both developed and developing countries. What are the links between corruption and political finance? This paper by DFID tackles this question, discussing solution options and action strategies. The pressures for corrupt financing in developing countries are related to the lack of legitimate sources of finance and to various anti-democratic party activities, such as vote buying.
Full document available online


US Agency for International Development 1999, USAID Political Party Development Assistance, USAID, Center for Democracy and Governance, Washington, D.C.
Political parties are essential to democracy, and indeed the vitality of a democracy can be measured by the condition of parties within that democracy. While some have argued that political parties are in decline and no longer function as they once did, it is USAID's opinion that they remain indispensable to the promotion and support of democracy in developing and transition countries because they organise, aggregate and articulate the political interests of citizens.
Full document available online


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