This chapter looks at competition between parties. First, the chapter outlines the ways in which party systems are described and categorized, in terms of the number of parties (in other words, fragmentation) and their ideological position (polarization). The chapter then addresses the theological models that aim to explain party competition. The chapter uses the simple spatial model here which predicts that parties position themselves close to the centre of politics to appeal to the modern voter. It then looks at competition models. These models expect parties to champion issues they ‘own’. The chapter also looks at valence models which focus on competence, leadership traits and other non-party characteristics of candidates and parties. The chapter ends with a discussion of mainstream parties, looking at how they seek to respond to the rise of challenger parties.
This chapter explores recent changes in European politics and looks to the future for European democracy as it stands now. The chapter explores the ongoing political change that can be seen within European countries and also at the European Union (EU) level. It aims to highlight four important debates about the state of democracy in Europe. These are: the debates about the rise of political fragmentation and its consequences for democracy; democratic backsliding in central and eastern Europe; the impact of the United Kingdom leaving the EU on democracy; and the democratic deficit in EU politics.