Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Clark, Michael

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


This dissertation seeks to answer the question of when do parties in consensual parliamentary systems expand the group of people who can pick the party leader? Previous literature has offered two opposing theories of change. One is rooted in the exogenous factor of electoral performance as a catalyst for parties to change. The other focuses on the endogenous factor of internal party struggles between the party leadership and ideological activists occupying positions in the mid-level of the party. Using a regression analysis of six consensual parliamentary democracies and process tracing of six political parties in the previously unexamined case of the Netherlands, I demonstrate that the exogenous factor of electoral loss is the primary cause of party leadership democratization. This dissertation further expands the discipline’s knowledge of what is still a relatively new field of scholarship, and contributes to debates over what factors influence change in political parties, and how parties adapt to remain relevant in a world where the voting public has become more skeptical of them and their ability to address the public’s concerns.


219 pages




Northern Illinois University

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