Handbook of Political Party Funding
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Handbook of Political Party Funding

Edited by Jonathan Mendilow and Eric Phélippeau

Scrutinizing a relatively new field of study, the Handbook of Political Party Funding assesses the basic assumptions underlying the research, presenting an unequalled variety of case studies from diverse political finance systems.
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Chapter 4: Political finance and the cartel party thesis

Daniela R. Piccio and Ingrid van Biezen


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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