At present, progressive theory‐building in the area of political party organisation is being hampered by the controversy over how much freedom of choice decision‐makers within a party enjoy in relation to their environment. This piece of research will therefore develop an analytical framework that transcends this debate by acknowledging the causal effects of both structures and party leadership. Based on the ideas of historical institutionalism, it will argue that party organisation is the product of strategic decisions made in a strategically selective context. The framework is then applied to political parties in the newer democracies of South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The selection of cases is motivated by the fact that East Asia has so far been largely ignored by systematic studies of political party organisation. As will be seen, post‐autocratic environments in the region strongly favour political parties that are mere façades for informal patron‐client networks. However, we can also find parties characterised by a higher level of formal organisational strength, including parties that share many similarities with the classical mass party. These parties thus demonstrate that political actors are able to develop alternative organisational responses to the same structural context
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