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Party matters: devolution and party politics in Britain and Spain

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This article addresses the relationship between political decentralization and the organization of political parties in Great Britain and Spain, focusing on the Labour Party and the Socialist Party, respectively. It assesses two rival accounts of this relationship: Caramani’s ‘nationalization of politics’ thesis and Chhibber and Kollman’s rational choice institutionalist account in their book The Formation of National Party Systems. It argues that both accounts are seriously incomplete, and on occasion misleading, because of their unwillingness to consider the autonomous role of political parties as advocates of institutional change and as organizational entities. The article develops this argument by studying the role of the British Labour Party and the Spanish Socialists in proposing devolution reforms, and their organizational and strategic responses to them. It concludes that the reductive theories cited above fail to capture the real picture, because parties cannot only mitigate the effects of institutional change, they are also the architects of these changes and shape institutions to suit their strategic ends.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26441/

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