Political Survival of Small Parties in Europe

Jae-Jae Spoon
Strategic choices allow small parties to balance their interests and achieve success


It is often thought that small party survival or failure is a result of institutional constraints, the behavior of large parties, and the choices of individual politicians. Jae-Jae Spoon, in contrast, argues that the decisions made by small parties themselves determine their ability to balance the dual goals of remaining true to their ideals while maximizing their vote and seat shares, thereby enabling them to survive even in adverse electoral systems.

Spoon employs a mixed-methods approach in order to explore the policy, electoral, and communication strategies of West European Green Parties from 1980 to the present. She combines cross-national data on these parties with in-depth comparative case studies of two New Politics parties, the French and British Green Parties, that have survived in similar national-level plurality electoral systems. Both of these parties have developed as organizations which run candidates in elections at the local, national, and European levels in their respective countries. The parties’ survival, Spoon asserts, results from their ability to balance their competing electoral, policy, and communication goals.

"Spoon uses innovative methods for examining the effect of green party behavior on their electoral fortunes, electoral presence and visibility to the public . . . This book makes an important contribution to the fields of niche party fortunes, party politics and comparative politics in general."
—Bonnie Meguid, University of Rochester

Jae-Jae Spoon is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas.

Praise / Awards

  • "Engagingly written and employing a fruitful mix of comparative research methods, this book explains how and why small parties, while they may not be entirely masters of their own fate, are more than simply corks tossed on the ocean. It adds significantly to our understanding, and deserves to be widely read."
    —Tim Bale, University of Sussex, UK

  • "Political Survival of Small Parties in Europe offers the rare treat of a small-n comparison that engages with broad political science issues of small party flair, feat, and fate. Mixed methods means that the depth of knowledge about individual cases is balanced with a theoretical ambition. In contrast with many other approaches, Spoon demonstrates the agency of small parties in adapting and using the constraints of their political and institutional environments."
    —Florence Faucher, Sciences Po—Centre d'études européennes, France

Look Inside

Table of Contents

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 220pp.
  • 33 tables, 15 figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11790-1

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  • $84.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03630-1

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  • $35.95 U.S.

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  • small parties, French Green Party, British Green Party, European political parties, European politics, party strategy, party survival, pre-election coalitions, local campaigns, local politics, parties' use of the media