Altering Party Systems
Strategic Behavior and the Emergence of New Political Parties in Western Democracies
Why new political parties are formed, and why some thrive while others fade away
New political parties have regularly appeared in developed democracies around the world. In some countries, environmental issues, immigration concerns, economic decline, or regional issues have been rallying points for new political parties, while in other countries these same issues were addressed very quickly by established parties, and new parties have failed to emerge.
Much recent research cannot explain why under certain circumstances new or neglected issues lead to the formation of new parties. This study explains the emergence of new political parties by utilizing a novel theoretical framework to demonstrate the crucial interplay between established parties and possible newcomers. Deriving testable hypotheses from a simple theoretical model, the book proceeds to a study of party formation in 22 developed democracies. New or neglected issues still appear as a driving force in explaining the emergence of new parties, but their effect is partially mediated by institutional factors, such as access to the ballot, public support for parties, and the electoral system.
Altering Party Systems supports in part the existing theoretical work, but it also advances new insights. The theoretical model pinpoints problems of research design that are hardly addressed in the comparative literature on new political parties. These insights from the theoretical model lead to empirical tests that improve on those employed in the literature and allow for a much-enhanced understanding of the formation and the success of new parties.
Simon Hug is Assistant Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin.
Praise / Awards
". . . a welcome advancement in the pursuit of meaningful cross-national generalizations about democratic party systems."
—W. M. Downs, Georgia State University, Choice, September 2002
"Considering the frequency with which new political parties emerge in established democracies, the dearth of truly comparative work on this topic is surprising. Altering Party Systems represents an ambitious attempt to fill this gap. Combining formal methods with quantitative analysis, this work aims to identify an underlying logic common to the formation of such parties. . . . Altering Party Systems will undoubtedly provoke considerable debate among party theorists. The author has successfully laid out his argument in such a way as to make the book accessible to readers with little or no training in game theory. . . . [T]his book has a great deal to recommend it and deserves to have a wide readership. In particular, the research design, which combines qualitative, quantitative, and formal modeling, merits wider application in comparative politics."
—Gail McElroy, Trinity College, Dublin, Journal of Politics, November 2002
"By promoting a theoretical, as opposed to descriptive, approach to analyzing new party formation, the book makes a substantial contribution to the new parties literature and points the way forward for future scholars."
—Arnie Kreppel, University of Florida, Perspectives on Politics, March 2003
"Hug's book is an important step forward in examining the conditions under which new parties form."
—Carles Boix, University of Chicago, West European Politics, October 2002
1. Introduction 1
2. Tales of New and Old Political Parties 11
3. A Theoretical Model 37
4. Studying New Parties 65
5. The Emergence of New Parties 79
6. The Initial Success of New Parties 125
7. Conclusion 147
8. Appendix 151
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