Institutionalized Parties and Civil Conflict

Comparative Politics
Authoritatian Regimes
Party Institutionalization
Conflict Resolution

Park, Sanghoon and Matthew C. Wilson. 2022. “Institutionalized Parties and Civil Conflict.”


Political Science, Univeristy of South Carolina University

Political Science, University of South Carolina


May 2021


How do institutionalized political parties affect civil conflict across regimes? We examine two competing explanations concerning the link between party institutionalization and civil conflict. On the one hand, more institutionalized political parties offer stronger channels for patronage, communication, and representation, which should serve as a mechanism for resolving conflict in both non-democracies and democracies alike by improving coordination among domestic actors. At the same time, however, more institutionalized parties may exacerbate civil conflict if they support interest aggregation and mobilization against a backdrop of limited freedoms. We also consider whether different aspects of party institutionalization affect conflict in similar ways, anticipataing that some components that are associated with stronger party institutionalization—like programmatic linkages—might have a comparatively weaker affect across regimes. In exploring the relationship between party institutionalization and civil conflict across regimes, we take into account both nonlinearities as well as historical effects. Initial findings suggest that greater party institutionalization is positively and linearly associated with conflict risk in less democratic regimes, but that this result is driven by different factors—national level organizations and distinct platforms increase conflict risk in non-democracies, while clientelist links reduce the risk of civil conflict in less democratic regimes.