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Cover Comparative European Politics

2. Political Parties  

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

Cover Comparative European Politics

3. Voting Behaviour  

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.