Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Carrie Manning

Second Advisor

Ryan Carlin

Third Advisor

Daniel Young


Political parties have been a common feature in non-competitive political systems, but their fates following an opening of electoral competition vary widely. Some parties continue to be able successfully compete for power, while many others languish as second-class political parties for decades. This dissertation seeks to answer the questions on this variation based on the institutional and organizational characteristics of these parties during the non-competitive era. Parties that play a major role in the non-competitive regime should be more likely to survive after an opening of competition, and parties that are able to reform anti-democratic legacies will be more able to translate their resources into future electoral success. This project builds on a literature that is rich in regional and sub-regional case studies by developing a global approach based upon comparable institutional qualities of non-competitive political systems and their ruling political parties. I also move away from the transitions literature and its focus on democracy, and instead focus on continuity and change in political parties after a time of major political change and the outcomes of that process. I develop an original, global database of 105 different regimes and 136 parties and their successors and their performance in elections ranging from 1975-2013. I find that parties which are a central institutional feature of the non-competitive regime are likely to survive regardless of their electoral success, while parties that play only a minor supporting role in the prior regime are dependent on continued electoral victories in order to survive for any significant period of time.