Rethinking party system nationalization in India (1952-2014)

A.H. Schakel*, W. Swenden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article provides a new conceptual and empirical analysis of party system nationalization, based on four different measurements. Unlike previous nationalization studies, these measurements conceptualize party system nationalization on the basis of electoral performance in national (general or federal) and sub-national (state) elections. After introducing these measurements we apply them to 16 general and 351 state elections in India, the world's largest democracy with strong sub-national governments. By incorporating state election results we are able to demonstrate that: (1) the pattern of denationalization in India has been more gradual than assumed in previous studies of party system nationalization; (2) denationalization in recent decades results less from dual voting (vote shifting between state and federal elections) than from the growing divergence among state party systems (in state and federal elections); (3) the 2014 general election result, although potentially transformative in the long run, provides more evidence of continuity than change in the short run.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
  • India
  • general elections
  • party system nationalization
  • sub-national elections

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