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Counting the Number of Parties: An Alternative Index

Juan Molinar
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 85, No. 4 (Dec., 1991), pp. 1383-1391
DOI: 10.2307/1963951
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1963951
Page Count: 9
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Counting the Number of Parties: An Alternative Index
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Abstract

I propose an alternative index to operationalize the variable number and size of parties in a party system. To support it, I present a critical overview of the two most common indices, Laakso and Taagepera's effective number of parties and Kesselman and Wildgen's hyperfractionalization, showing the causes of their weakness. Then I explain the computational logic of my alternative, @'number of parties,@' and compare it with the other two, using hypothetical cases. After that, I contrast the Laakso-Taagepera index with mine, using data from actual elections between 1945 and 1981. I conclude that my index outperforms the other two as an operationalization of the variable number and size of parties.

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