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Altering Party Systems

Strategic Behavior and the Emergence of New Political Parties in Western Democracies

Simon Hug

Publication Year: 2001

New political parties have regularly appeared in developed democracies around the world. In some countries issues focusing on the environment, immigration, economic decline, and regional concerns have been brought to the forefront by new political parties. In other countries these issues have been addressed by established parties, and new issue-driven parties have failed to form. Most current research is unable to explain why under certain circumstances new issues or neglected old ones lead to the formation of new parties. Based on a novel theoretical framework, this study demonstrates the crucial interplay between established parties and possible newcomers to explain the emergence of new political parties. Deriving stable hypotheses from a simple theoretical model, the book proceeds to a study of party formation in twenty-two developed democracies. New or neglected issues still appear as a driving force in explaining the emergence of new parties, but their effect is partially mediated by institutional factors, such as access to the ballot, public support for parties, and the electoral system. The hypotheses in part support existing theoretical work, but in part present new insights. The theoretical model also pinpoints problems of research design that are hardly addressed in the comparative literature on new political parties. These insights from the theoretical model lead to empirical tests that improve on those employed in the literature and allow for a much-enhanced understanding of the formation and the success of new parties. Simon Hug is Lecturer in Political Science, University of Geneva.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. v-v

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p. vii-vii

This book is based on my dissertation "Time to Party? Strategic Behavior and the Emergence of New Political Parties" (University of Michigan 1994). On the long journey from a vague idea to a dissertation and finally to a book I accumulated debts to many people. Enumerating them all would be tedious and would almost certainly lead to embarrassing omissions. To avoid both pitfalls I will refrain from using any names in these acknowledgements. All persons...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-10

Scholarly interest in new political parties has followed strong attention-cycles, largely defined by the changing success of several classes of new actors on the electoral scene. Green parties stimulated the study of new parties with their early successes in the late seventies. Their waning, especially of the German Greens (Poguntke 1990; Frankland 1995a, 1995b) at the end of the eighties, has heavily reduced the attention paid to their fate. Shortly before the end of...

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2. Tales of New and Old Political Parties

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pp. 11-36

There are times when the formation of a new political party comes as a surprise to both politicians and scholars alike. At other times the surprise comes from the fact that no new party has appeared despite an urgent problem prevalent in a given society. In this chapter I present three tales of new and old parties. All three tales illustrate peculiarities of the formation process of new parties. In two of the three tales a new party appeared very quickly, while in the third its...

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3. A Theoretical Model

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pp. 37-64

There is a degree of consensus among students of new political parties that the presence of a neglected demand or a new issue is not on its own a sufficient reason for the emergence of a new actor on the electoral scene. This appears clearly in one of the tales of the previous chapter. Despite the early formation of an environmental consciousness in the Netherlands, a new party failed to emerge for some time. In the words of Riidig (1990, 8) the "problem push"...

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4. Studying New Parties

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pp. 65-78

My theoretical framework mainly yields predictions on the formation of new political parties. It suggests a series of relationships between theoretical variables and the likelihood of party formation. Some implications also address the relative strength of these new competitors. Together these two sets of predictions offer insights into the two central questions in the study of new political...

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5. The Emergence of New Parties

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pp. 79-123

The model presented in chapter 3 suggests a series of implications that link several theoretical variables with the likelihood of party formation. Provided that we find appropriate measures for these theoretical variables, hypotheses can be derived and empirically tested. The present chapter proposes empirical tests of such hypotheses. In doing so, however, we have to be careful to employ an adequate research design, as the discussion in chapter 4 suggested...

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6. The Initial Success of New Parties

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pp. 125-145

The implications derived from the theoretical model mostly relate a series of theoretical variables with the likelihood of new political parties. But some implications also give hints at the relative frequency of weak and strong new parties. Consequently, some limited information is available on the initial strength of the newcomers on the electoral scene. The implications that yield this information appear in table...

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 147-150

Despite the neglect that new political parties experience in the literature on parties and party systems, it is my contention that it is crucially important to understand this phenomenon. It is not only the numerical importance of new political parties (which I documented in the empirical part) which justifies a closer look at new parties. To understand their substantive impact on political systems is also of great interest. Thus, the present study attempted to provide a new look at new political...

8. Appendix

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pp. 151-187


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pp. 189-203


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pp. 205-215

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024056
E-ISBN-10: 0472024051
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472111848
Print-ISBN-10: 0472111841

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 35 drawings, 29 tables
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: Interests, Identities, and Institutions