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Chapter

This chapter examines the rise of radical right-wing nationalist parties and radical anti-globalization, anti-austerity left-wing parties in Europe. Anti-establishment parties are not new; they have always been a feature of European politics. The ground was not seeded for their development and expansion, however, until social and cultural changes that began in the 1960s combined with the economic and migration crises of the 2000s. The chapter discusses historic anti-establishment parties and the new parties that have emerged over the last two decades. It discusses the nature of anti-establishment parties and describes contemporary radical-left and extreme-right parties. The label of ‘populism’ as applied to these parties is analysed. Using a comparative approach, the chapter examines why there has been a growth of support for anti-establishment parties and attitudes in the last decades, focusing on the development of a ‘populist moment’ in contemporary representative democracies.

Chapter

André Krouwel

This chapter charts some of the more important developments in European party politics, as well as analysing the contemporary state of party politics. It begins with a discussion of the value of political parties for democracy, after which it describes the origin of party systems in historical social cleavages, how these cleavages relate to the various party families, and the variation in party systems found across European democracies. Subsequently, it examines how parties have changed over time in terms of organization, ideology, and electoral appeal. Highlighting the changing roles political parties performed over time, it focuses on recent changes in European party systems, particularly growing polarization and fragmentation.

Chapter

This chapter switches the focus to political parties. It looks at their individual roles and how they operate. The chapter discusses the parties that constitute the ‘party system’. It considers the two main parties operating at the UK level: the Conservative Party and the Labour Party. It also looks at the smaller parties, such as the Liberal Democrats. The chapter considers the political approach of the various parties and the type of support they attract. It also looks at how parties are funded. The chapter provides a number of theoretical perspectives to help with an analysis of political parties. These are: the extent to which parties pursue values or power; the respective roles of their members and leaders; groupings within parties; how far the UK has a two-party system or whether our definition of the party system should be revised; and the relationships between the various parities. The chapter then gives examples of how these ideas play out with specific focus on recent events involving the Conversative and Labour parties. The chapter asks: do members have too much influence over their parties? The chapter ends by asking: where are we now?

Chapter

This chapter looks at the nature and evolution of political parties in a number of European democracies. It analyses the important functions of political parties. It charts how they have developed over time. Starting with the social cleavage approach, the chapter addresses the origins of European party families and party systems. It then turns to the transformation of European party families and systems. It considers this both nationally and within the European Union (EU). It provides evidence of the ‘unfreezing’ of European party systems and thinks about whether a dealignment of traditional cleavage patterns can currently be witnessed. It asks: is there also a realignment along a new ‘cultural’ dimension of politics? Finally, the chapter addresses the evolution of party types from cadre over catch-all to modern entrepreneurial challenger parties.

Chapter

Richard S. Katz

This chapter examines the role that political parties play in the working of democracy. Political parties are among the major actors in democratic politics. Whether or not in power as the result of victory in free and fair elections, the governments of most countries have effectively been in the hands of party leaders. When governments were not in the hands of party leaders, most often it was because party government was interrupted by a military takeover. The chapter first considers various definitions of a political party, before tracing the origins of political parties. It then describes the functions of parties and the ways in which parties are organized, regulated, and financed. It concludes with an analysis of the role of parties in the stabilization of democracy in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, as well as challenges confronting parties in the new millennium.

Chapter

This chapter assesses what politicians and members of political parties really care about: getting into office on the back of a successful election campaign. Rather than the general determinants of voting outlined in the previous chapter, this is about the choices voters and parties face within a particular system, so they can organize themselves to win. For that they need to play by the rules of the game, which includes developing strategies within electoral systems. The chapter then discusses the impact of electoral systems on that calculus, and how the number of parties is affected by the electoral system in place. It also looks at the factors that assist the winning of elections, and the extent to which the choices of parties and voters are affected by growing instability in the system. Overall, the chapter provides an overview of British political parties and party systems.

Chapter

Daniele Caramani

This chapter examines how competition between political parties gives rise to different party systems. In liberal democracies, competition for power is based on popular votes. The shape and dynamics of party systems are determined by the electoral game, with parties as main actors. A party system is thus essentially the result of competitive interactions between parties. A party system has three main elements: which parties exist, how many parties exist and how big they are, and how parties behave. An obvious but important point is that party systems must be composed of more than one political party. The chapter begins with a discussion of the origins of party systems, followed by an analysis of the format of party systems, such as two-party systems and multiparty systems. It then considers the influence of the electoral system on party systems, before concluding with an assessment of the dynamics of party systems.

Chapter

15. European parties:  

a powerful caucus in the European Parliament and beyond

Tapio Raunio

The party system of the European Parliament (EP) has been dominated by the two main European party families: centre-right conservatives and Christian democrats, on the one hand, and centre-left social democrats on the other, which controlled the majority of the seats until the 2019 elections. In the early 1950s, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) decided to form party-political groups, instead of national blocs, to counterbalance the dominance of national interests in the Council. Over the decades, the shape of the EP party system has become more stable, and traditional levels of group cohesion and coalition formation have not really been affected by the rise of populism and the increasing politicization of European integration. National parties remain influential within party groups, not least through their control of candidate selection. Outside of the Parliament, Europarties—parties operating at the European level—influence both the broader development of integration and the choice of the Commission president.

Chapter

This chapter discusses the political organization of the UK Parliament, at the heart of which are the political parties. It first considers the internal organization of Parliament, focusing on how political parties are structured. There are two principal parties facing one another in Parliament: the party in government and opposition parties. The opposition comprises frontbench Members (shadow ministers) and backbenchers. Smaller parties may also designate some Members as ‘frontbenchers’ (official spokespeople for the party). The frontbench of each party includes whips. The chapter provides an overview of these whips as well as parliamentary parties before considering legislative–executive relations. In particular, it examines how parties shape the relationship between Parliament and the executive, and how these have changed over time.

Chapter

This chapter examines the party system of the European Parliament (EP). In the early 1950s, members of the EP decided to form party-political groups instead of national blocs to counterbalance the dominance of national interests in the European Council. Since then, the party groups have gradually, but consistently, consolidated their positions in the EP. The chapter first considers the shape of the EP party system, the structure of the party groups, and the role of national parties within them. It then looks at the Spitzenkandidaten (lead candidates) initiative, whereby the Europarties put forward their own candidates for the Commission President in the 2014 elections. It also discusses coalition politics and parliamentary committees as well as electoral accountability in the EP and concludes with an overview of the state of research on the EP party system, emphasizing the need to understand how coalitions are formed in the committees and the plenary.

Chapter

Leonardo Morlino

This chapter examines the role of political parties in the processes of democratization, that is, during transition, installation, and consolidation, and the possible phases of democratic crisis. It first considers the definition of a political party within the processes of democratization before discussing how parties can be indispensable for the actual working of democracy. It then explores the actual role of political parties during transitions to democracy and during democratic consolidation, and in different types of crises. It also describes basic patterns of transition to democracy as well as key elements of democratic consolidation, including electoral stabilization and emergence of recurring patterns of party competition. The chapter shows that parties are dominant in the process of transition, even if not always hegemonic.

Chapter

8. Reviewing the ‘classical’ legacy  

Left–right politics in the age of ideology

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the legacy of the ‘classical’ ideologies in terms of their European origins, expansion, and dominance. Classical ideologies such as liberalism, conservatism, and socialism can be understood as contrasting responses to the intellectual, social, and economic transformations known as the Enlightenment and modernization, especially industrialization and the rise of capitalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first considers the idea that liberalism constitutes a dominant ideology before discussing the relationship between ideological principles, party politics, and statecraft. It then analyses the relationship between the classical ideologies in terms of the Enlightenment and the left–right conception of ideological debate. It also introduces the notion of ‘new’ ideologies and the extent to which the dominance of the classical ideologies can be seen in the character of the political parties that have dominated Western democracies.

Chapter

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter deals with political parties: why they emerged, how they can be classified, what functions they perform, how they interact, and what challenges they are facing today. One of the paradoxes about democracies is that there is almost a unanimous consensus about the indispensability of political parties. On the other hand, the benefits of being a member of a political party are bound to be minuscule compared to the costs of membership. Thus it is irrational for people to join parties. They should only form (small) interest groups. The chapter first provides a historical background on the development of political parties before discussing their functions, such as legitimation of the political system, structuring the popular vote, and formulation of public policy. It then considers different types of political parties as well as the characteristics of party systems and concludes with an analysis of the problems facing political parties today.

Chapter

This chapter deals with political parties, focusing on why they emerged, how they can be classified, what functions they perform, and how they interact. It identifies two phases in the development of political parties. The first parties were intended to structure the work of legislatures, and later evolved into mass parties to structure the votes of electors, catch-all parties to win more votes irrespective of ideological appeal, and cartel parties more dominated by party professionals. The chapter also considers seven functions typically carried out by a political party, irrespective of whether they operate in democracies or authoritarian regimes: legitimation of the political system, integration and mobilization of citizens, representation, structuring the popular vote, aggregation of diverse interests, recruitment of leaders for public office, and formulation of public policy. Finally, it discusses various types of party outside the West, party systems, and some of the challenges facing political parties today.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

Margaret Arnott and Richard Kelly

This chapter discusses the role of smaller parties in the law-making process. General elections in the UK are conducted with an electoral system which militates against the representation of smaller political parties, particularly those having no strong support at the regional level. However, events at Westminster over the last decade have increased the prominence of smaller parties in the operation of parliamentary business. The chapter first considers the role of small parties in the UK Parliament, committees and legislation, as well as their participation in backbench debates before examining how the political and electoral context of Parliament, especially in the twenty-first century, has affected the representation of smaller parties and the ways in which reforms to parliamentary procedure since the 1980s have enhanced the role of the second opposition party. It suggests that Parliament today offers more opportunities for smaller political parties to influence debate and policy, but this remains quite limited.

Chapter

This chapter starts off with an overview of the institutions that decide how citizens cast ballots, firstly, in elections, and secondly, directly for policy. The former is related to electoral systems and the latter to direct democracy. The chapter considers the implications of these institutions for party systems and political representation from the view point of the principal–agent framework. There is a large variety of electoral systems used in Europe. Most elections are held using the system of proportional representation. However, there are important institutional differences that need to be remembered. The chapter then goes on to examine the effects of electoral systems on the party system. This is carried out with electoral change over time in mind. Finally, the chapter turns to direct democracy and analyses the use of referendums, specifically with regard to the question of the European Union (EU).

Chapter

This chapter looks at the changing nature of ideology in Europe. It also delves into the issue of voter preference and considers how that has changed over time. It is all too often assumed that voters, as well as parties, exist along a single ideological left-to-right continuum. However, the truth is that there more deviations from this continuum than we might have in the past assumed. With the emergence of new salient issues, such as immigration, the environment and European integration, the old assumptions no longer hold true. The chapter also looks at populism, which it defines as a thin-central ideology. The final questions of this chapter are: how has populism challenged our current model of democracy? What does the future hold in this regard?

Chapter

Tapio Raunio

This chapter examines the relationship between European integration and democracy. The continuous transfer of policy-making powers from European Union (EU) member states to the European level has raised serious concerns about democratic legitimacy. The chapter assesses the claims that European integration undermines national democracy, and that decision-making at the EU level is not sufficiently democratic. It argues that while significant challenges remain, European integration has definitely become more democratic over the years. But there is perhaps a trade-off, with stronger input legitimacy potentially an obstacle to efficient European-level decision-making. It also underlines the multilevel nature of the EU polity and the importance of public debates about European integration.

Chapter

Erik Tillman

This chapter examines theories and evidence of voting behaviour in Europe. Sociological models examine the role of political cleavages such as class in the development of long-term attachments between parties and voters. Rationalist models examine the sources of short-term changes in voting behaviour with spatial models focusing on the ideological congruence between parties and voters and performance voting models emphasizing evaluations of incumbent records in office. Recent decades have seen debates about a possible realignment of voter loyalties or a dealignment of voter attachments. The final section focuses on how the legacy of communism has structured the development of voting behaviour in East-Central Europe.