2009 年 2009 巻 38 号 p. 89-103
This article presents quantitative aspects of the party system in Lithuania and argues that Lithuania’s electoral institutions (mixed-member majoritarian system) define the quantitative features of its party system.
There has been an ambivalent view of Lithuanian party politics in the literature. Some scholars argue that it is a highly fragile and volatile system, while others assert that it is stable. Several scholars have argued that its complexity could be explained as a result of intertemporal change. Adding to this debate, I argue that the differing evaluations of the Lithuanian party system is the result of analyses based on different measurement scores. The view that the system is unstable is supported by the multitude of political parties that seats in the parliament and the view that it is volatile is evidenced by the fact that newcomer parties easily win seats. On the other hand, effective party number index (known as the Laakso-Taagepera index) and the bipolar cabinet forming support the view that the system is stable. This article organizes and clears up various quantitative features of the party system of Lithuania and argues that its two main aspects—its instability (multitude of political parties) and its volatility (newcomer parties)—are prominent features of the political systems in other Central and East European countries.
In order to explore the origins of these two prominent aspects of the Lithuanian party system, this article focuses on Lithuania’s electoral institutions. Socioeconomic and historical factors cannot account for the quantitative aspects of Lithuanian party politics. Lithuania has adopted the mixed-member majoritarian system as their electoral system, an institution that is very exceptional in the context of the Central and East European democracies. Referring to theoretical research in electoral studies, I argue that Lithuania’s adaptation of the mixed-member system is an explanatory variable in the determination of the quantitative aspects of Lithuania’s party system. This is because Lithuania’s adaptation of the mixed-member system, including single member district, do not promotes two party systems, rather fragmentizes the party system and foments personal voting. These effects are bolstered by contamination effects which occur in the mixed-member majoritarian system, seats distribution rule and the transitional fledgling Lithuanian party system. Observation clearly shows that single-member districts are responsible for the multitude of political parties, which are seated in the Lithuanian parliament. Representatives from about four to six parties are elected in proportional representation districts, but representatives from ten parties are elected in single member districts in Lithuania. Moreover, profiles of political elites who organize new political parties show that those who have been elected in single member districts are significantly involved in splitting from existing parties and forming new political parties. In addition, in single member districts it is easier for a member of the local elite possessing a political or economic power base to win an election than in another type of district.
Lithuania’s party politics exhibit aspects of both stability and instability. However, the quantitative character and prominent features of the party system have been considerably defined by its mixed-member majoritarian electoral system.