Date of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Type

Honors Project

School

College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Karen Vogel

Abstract

To prevent private interests from distorting the democratic process, most European countries have implemented public funding schemes to guarantee fair competition among political parties. However, very little research has explored the possibility of institutional corruption in conjunction with state political party funding. Katz and Mair’s cartel party thesis argues state support strengthens ties between political parties and the state at the expense of civil society. Oliveira uses organizational theory to point to institutional corruption as a design problem. This paper serves as a preliminary exploration of whether Oliveira’s institutional corruption model and the cartel party theory can be applied to the European context. Comparative case studies of the Czech Republic and Romania, party finance laws and reforms, and the existing cartel party literature in these countries are used to construct a possible new theoretical framework for analysis. Secondary sources such as public opinion polls and surveys are employed to underline the ineffectiveness of political parties’ ability to connect with the electorate. This analysis brings the cartel party thesis and institutional corruption theory together into a single framework, helping to explain how the cartel party thesis can be framed as a problem of organizational design whereby parties drift from their institutional purpose in order to ensure their own survival, losing society’s trust in the process.

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