Party System Change and Coalition Politics in the Multiparty Systems of North-Western Europe

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
WMP Yudowitz Seminar Room 1 (University of Glasgow)
Sarah de Lange , Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Amsterdam
Tom van der Meer , University of Amsterdam
West European party politics has been characterized by change in recent years. The emergence of new issues such as European integration, immigration and multiculturalism, the rise of new parties that campaign on these issues, as well as the strategic reaction of the political mainstream to the emergence of these issues and parties, have resulted in the rise of a socio-cultural line of conflict. As a result, party competition is now structured by two dimensions: a socio-economic and a socio-cultural dimension. Moreover, the above dynamics have also lead to growing fragmentation and polarization on these two dimensions.

This paper investigates the consequences of these developments for the dynamics in West European party systems, focusing in particular on the direction of competition and patterns of government formation. It compares developments in party systems that were quite different until recently: the party systems in the Low Countries (which were characterized by centripetal tendencies) and the party systems in the Scandinavian countries  (which were characterized by a bi-polar structure).

Using information about seat distributions and party positions, the paper examines to what extent these party systems have converged in terms of patterns of competition and cooperation.