Chapter 4: Political finance and the cartel party thesis
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This chapter focuses on two core assumptions underlying the cartel party thesis: the increasing dependence of political parties on public subsidies and the penalizing effect of public funding regimes on smaller parties. Based on recent empirical evidence on the practices and the rules of public funding in European democracies we found corroboration of the cartel party thesis, in that public subsidies represent a substantial and increasingly large share of total party income in contemporary European democracies. We found mixed evidence instead for an underlying cartel model of regulation of political finance regimes, as the public funding rules have become more inclusive for smaller political actors and fairer mechanisms of electoral spending have been established over time.

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