When the Colors Fade: Party Politics, Institutionalization, and Democratization in Ukraine and Georgia
Mierzejewski, Melanie G.
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This study analyzes the process of democratization through an institutional lens, focusing on levels of political party and party system institutionalization following the color revolutions. I look at the color revolutions as a potential moment of change for party politics. Political parties and party systems control levels of political stability, impact effective policymaking, and shape the political landscape. The institutionalization of political parties and party systems is considered vital to democratic consolidation and the literature has reflected this with an increasing amount of efforts to bring these two debates together. In this study I argue that how the color revolutions impacted democratization is a rather complex process, mitigated by ethno-regional, economic, and institutional problems afflicting both political parties and the party systems. Using the cases of Ukraine and Georgia, I find that the development and institutionalization of the party system has greater democratizing effects than having strong, institutionalized political parties. Furthermore, while it is conceptually important to treat political parties and party systems as distinct and dually important areas of analysis, the interaction between these two levels of party politics is crucial for understanding democratization.