No Nos Representan: Opportunity, Agency, and the Role of New Political Divisions in Party-System Change

Friday, July 14, 2017
JWS - Room J10 (J355) (University of Glasgow)
Carissa Leanne Tudor , Politics, Princeton University
The financial and sovereign debt crises have had profound and varied political implications throughout Europe. This paper explores the variation through a comparison of Spain and Portugal. While both countries experienced devastating economic crises and entered into financial agreements with the international community, their political trajectories are distinct. Spain witnessed a fragmentation of its stable two-party system; in contrast, shifts in political party support have been less dramatic in Portugal. I argue that different priorities advanced by social movements in Spain and Portugal created different political opportunities. While the former prioritized representation and avoided alignment with the left, the latter prioritized economic grievances linked to the ideological left. When these different social movement patterns interacted with the country-specific institutional contexts and the political attitudes they created divergent political opportunities. In Spain, an opportunity for new parties arose, while in Portugal an opportunity for increased political power on the left emerged. Capitalizing on these opportunities, two new parties in Spain prioritized issues of representation and worked to create a new-old political division. In contrast, political parties on the far left in Portugal promoted issues associated with the anti-austerity agenda, helping to increase their support among voters, while simultaneously maintaining the left-right ideological division. The emergence of the new-old political division in Spain explains the party-system change in that country, while in Portugal the reinforced left-right ideological division invigorated parties on the far left, paving the way for a strong electoral showing that nonetheless failed to transform the electoral arena.
  • Tudor_CES_PaperNote.pdf (36.0 kB)