New Issues, New Cleavages, and New Parties: How to Understand Change in West European Party Competition

22 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2010

See all articles by Christoffer Green-Pedersen

Christoffer Green-Pedersen

University of Aarhus - Department of Political Science

Date Written: August 26, 2010

Abstract

Party research has been slow to address one key aspect of contemporary party politics in Western Europe, namely changes in its competitive structure. This is a question of both format (what are the dimensions structuring party competition?), and substance (what are the policy issues parties compete about?). The aim of this paper is to push this debate further by suggesting a theoretical framework for understanding the relation between format and substance of West European party competition. The starting point for this framework is the continuing dominance of the left-right structure; in other words, a considerable stability in the format of West European party competition. Thus the key theoretical challenge is to explain why some issues are politicized within a stable format, while others are not. The key element in this alternative approach is the incentives for politicization which different issues offer for mainstream opposition parties. The approach is illustrated empirically by data on the development of party competition in Denmark over the past decade.

Keywords: Party Competition, Western Europe, Cleavages, Issue competition

Suggested Citation

Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, New Issues, New Cleavages, and New Parties: How to Understand Change in West European Party Competition (August 26, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1666096

Christoffer Green-Pedersen (Contact Author)

University of Aarhus - Department of Political Science ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
DK-8000 Aarhus C, 8000
Denmark

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