Dominant Party Systems

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan and the University of Malaya are partnering to organize a comparative conference on dominant party systems. Dominant party systems are those in which a single party or coalition rules for an extraordinary period of time by regularly winning contested, multiparty elections. This two-day conference will bring together scholars from around the world, both established and junior, who are doing cutting-edge work on the topic.

The conference will focus on the formation, evolution and breakdown of this special type of party system. It is centrally concerned with accounting for the feature of dominance that is so striking in cases like Taiwan, Senegal, and Mexico: a ruling party’s extraordinary duration in elected office. As these cases and others demonstrate, some ruling parties endure in power under electorally competitive conditions for extremely long periods of time. Their existence raises two questions that we intend to address in this conference. The first is about the origins of dominant party systems: under what conditions do ruling parties acquire large electoral advantages over all competitors in the party system? The second is about the evolution of dominant party systems: what affects the rate at which these ruling party advantages decline relative to competitors, leading to their eventual defeat?

One goal of the conference is to bring together scholars examining similar sets of questions using a variety of methods (including qualitative, quantitative and formal modeling) and looking at a wide range of empirical contexts. Toward the latter goal our list of potential participants includes scholars who work on dominant party regimes in Africa East Asia, Europe, the countries of former communist block, Latin American, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The conference will be organized by Dr. Terence Gomez, a Professor at the University of Malaya, who will be visiting the University of Michigan for the 2013-14 academic year. 

F R I D A Y,  M A Y  9

9-9:15 am  |  Welcoming Remarks

9:15-10:45 am  |  Panel 1: Comparative Views of One-Party Dominance

11 am-12:30 pm  |  Panel 2: Dominance in Developed Democracies

2-4 pm  |  Panel 3: Dominance in New and Developing Democracies

S A T U R D A Y ,  M A Y 1 0

9-11 am  |  Panel 4: Dominance in Autocracies

11:15 am-12:45 pm  |  Wrap-up discussion and workshop (all conference participants)