Party relevance and party survival in new democracies

William Bianco*, Christopher Kam, Itai Sened, Regina Smyth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We argue that the move to free and fair elections is only the first step in a democratic transition. With this change, competition moves into the legislative arena, where interests are defined not in terms of support or opposition to the old regime, but over competing visions of what government should do. Thus, examining legislative behavior and legislative outcomes helps us to understand the long-term political and policy trajectory of democratic transitions. Building on game-theoretic analysis of majority-rule decision-making, our hypothesis is that, after controlling for factors such as seat share, party survival depends on party relevance—the organization’s influence over legislative outcomes. Using legislative roll call data from Hungary, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, we show that relevance is a major influence on party survival, even after controlling for seat shares and other factors. The last section of the paper discusses the implications of these results for democracy assistance programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Area Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Democratic consolidation
  • Democratic transitions
  • Legislative process
  • Majority rule
  • Uncovered set


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