The Organizational Roots of Party Collapse. In progress.
Why do established parties collapse? Established parties benefit from decades of accumulated party brand, organization, and access to finance — making their sudden collapse not only destabilizing for democracy but also puzzling.
This book links party collapse to rigid organizational boundaries, or an inability to incorporate new groups into the party. Parties with early monopolies are vulnerable to capture by entrenched local party elites, who block the later incorporation of new groups to preserve their local rents at the cost of the party as a whole.
The theory is applied to explain long-run dominant party collapse and resilience across regions of India, the world’s largest democracy. Drawing on historical research and statistical data, I document why the historically dominant Congress party collapsed in regions of India that were strongholds of the colonial-era independence movement — a “reversal of fortune” that emerged over time as a result of the party’s failure to incorporate newly mobilized lower-caste and rural groups in the wake of large-scale exogenous shocks, including the green revolution.
The findings offer a new explanation for the comparative puzzle of established party collapse. They also highlight the theoretical importance of organizational boundaries, and how they shape the long-run performance of political organizations.