Challenges to Political Parties

The Case of Norway
Kaare Strom and Lars Svasand, Editors
A unique inquiry into the long-term prospects for political parties


Are political parties still the most important political organizations in politics? Or are they, as some charge, powerless and intellectually bankrupt? Although political parties have been the main vehicles of mass politics during the twentieth century, their role in the twenty-first is not at all clear.

Challenges to Political Parties: The Case of Norway addresses these issues by examining the role of parties in Norwegian politics over the last twenty years. Because Norway has been a stable country with relatively few of the tensions present in other democracies, it is easier to see in this environment how parties are adapting to the many constraints of the modern world. The framework developed in this collection by a number of leading Norwegian and international social scientists sheds light on the strength of the party system worldwide.

Norway, indeed, exhibits the same stability observed elsewhere in the world. Voters are increasingly eschewing strong party identification and show-ing fickleness through vote-switching. There has been a dramatic decline in political trust among the electorate, and contempt for politicians has become a prominent topic for the media. Yet the story also reveals the adaptability of the party system. Like entrepreneurs, parties are either adapting to meet voters' needs or new, more responsive parties are emerging to compete against entrenched, older organizations. The party system may be changing, the contributors to this volume argue, but party government is likely to be the central form of democratic governments for some time to come.

Kaare Strøm is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego.

Lars Svåsand is Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen.

Praise / Awards

  • "Challenges to Political Parties gives valuable insights, and the cross-disciplinary impetus of the book provides a wealth of information and presents empirical research on a variety of fields of relevance to modern party life. The rational choice approach offers an intriguing alternative to the conventional models of party decline, which focus on functional, organizational, and electoral perspectives. . . . For those interested in European politics generally, and in an updated analysis of Norwegian politics more specifically, the book is highly recommended."
    American Political Science Review
  • "Scandinavian party systems are among the most important for students of comparative politics, and this first-rate work moves the discussion well along."
  • ". . . for students of Norwegian political parties the book is simply a must. For comparativists, moreover, it provides a valuable and learned contribution to the international academic discussion on party decline and party change, a contribution that resonates beyond the Norwegian context."
    Party Politics

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 416pp.
  • 21 tables, 1 map.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1997
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10680-6

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  • $89.95 U.S.