The Reshaping of West European Party Politics

In his new book, Professor Christoffer Green-Pedersen presents a new model of issue competition among political parties based on a new coding of party manifestos.

The Reshaping of West European Party Politics
Foto: Oxford University Press

Publisher's description:

Long gone are the times when class-based political parties with extensive membership dominated politics. Instead, party politics has become issue-based. Surprisingly few studies have focused on how the issue content of West European party politics has developed over the past decades. Empirically, Reshaping of West European Party Politics studies party politics in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK from 1980 and onwards. This book highlights the more complex party system agenda with the decline, but not disappearance, of macroeconomic issues as well as the rise in 'new politics' issues together with education and health care. Moreover, various 'new politics' issues such as immigration, the environment, and European integration have seen very different trajectories.

To explain the development of the individual issues, this volume develops a new theoretical model labelled the 'issue incentive model' of party system attention. The aim of the model is to explain how much attention issues get throughout the party system, which is labelled 'the party system agenda'. To explain the development of the party system agenda, one needs to focus on the incentives that individual policy issues offer to large, mainstream parties, i.e. the typical Social Democratic, Christian Democratic, or Conservative/Liberal parties that have dominated West European governments for decades. The core idea of the model is that the incentives that individual policy issues offer to these vote and office-seeking parties depend on three factors, namely issue characteristics, issue ownership, and coalition considerations. The issue incentive model builds on and develops a top-down perspective on which the issue content of party politics is determined by the strategic considerations of political parties and their competition with each other.

Comparative Politics is a series for researchers, teachers, and students of political science that deals with contemporary government and politics. Global in scope, books in the series are characterised by a stress on comparative analysis and strong methodological rigour. The series is published in association with the European Consortium for Political Research. For more information visit:   

More information on the website of Oxford University Press

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