Power relationships in non-democratic regimes are not always highly personalized. As we saw in the previous chapter, the struggle for power in many non-democratic regimes may result in the establishment of some institutional framework which, though never perfectly effective, is capable of imposing some limits on rulers and of regulating the competition for state power. Moreover, even personal rulers unconstrained by their elite colleagues often exercise power through particular organizations that enable them to control society and achieve their goals. Two institutions have played especially important roles in how non-democratic regimes are ruled in the modern world: the political party and the modern bureaucratized army. Both of these emerged from the transformation of certain patronage relationships (Martin, 2009, chs. 7–8) into functionally specialized and normatively regulated hierarchies – the party as an organization for mobilizing large numbers of people, and the army as an organization for the use of violence. This chapter focuses on the role of political parties in non-democratic regimes, while the next two chapters focus on armies and other institutions through which political power has been exercised in non-democratic regimes. We begin by surveying the diversity of ways in which non-democratic regimes have made use of parties. This diversity raises the question of whether there are any particular characteristics of parties that make them useful for non-democratic regimes even in contexts in which they do not serve to contest elections. The answer, I argue, is that (some) parties are particularly effective at ensuring elite cohesion, managing the loyalty of supporters through appropriate rewards and punishments, and mobilizing groups beyond the ruling elite in support of the regime.
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