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Movement Parties: their rise, variety, and consequences

Participation
Parties and elections
EDI13
Fred Paxton
Università degli Studi di Milano
Endre Borbáth
Freie Universität Berlin

While political party research points to the hollowing out of traditional parties and declining rates of participation in electoral politics (Mair 2013; van Biezen, Mair, and Poguntke 2012), social movement studies emphasize the increasingly important role of the protest arena in mobilizing discontent (Giugni and Grasso 2019; Dalton 2008). The two strands of literature largely lived separate lives (McAdam and Tarrow 2010) and only recently were combined in the study of movement parties as hybrid forms of organizations that blend electoral and protest mobilization to channel discontent (della Porta et al. 2017; Hutter, Lorenzini, and Kriesi 2019). The proposed workshop aims to bring political party and social movement scholars together and invite them to reflect on the rise, variety and consequences of movement parties in Europe. According to Kitschelt (2006), movement parties represent a transitory form of mobilization between social movements and political parties, and are characterized by limited investment in solving problems of collective action and social choice. In Europe, this new form of party has emerged amidst a wave of popular discontent, stoked by the financial crisis, the ensuing austerity, and long-term disenchantment with political institutions. These parties - such as Podemos in Spain, the Movimento Cinque Stelle in Italy, and Jobbik in Hungary —have captured aspirations for change, as well as anger and anxieties about globalisation, migration and the socio-economic and cultural upheaval that a dynamic of cleavage formation have wrought. The rise of movement parties has also been studied in the Latin American context (Anria 2013; 2018), and in the US and Canada (Schwartz 2006). Across the globe, we observe great variation among ‘movement parties’ in terms of their origin, ideological profile, media strategy and organization form. Different contextual factors underpin the varied pathways. While many of them represent social movements that are new to electoral politics, some originate from parties that take movement-like organizational and ideological features to mobilize in protest politics (Muldoon and Rye 2020; Blings 2020). They occupy the breadth of the ideological spectrum — from the far right (Caiani and Císař 2019; Pirro and Castelli Gattinara 2018) to the radical left (Della Porta et al. 2017), however, it remains an open question as to the extent to which they formulate an ideologically or strategically radical alternative to existing formations. The workshop aims to take up the various conceptual and empirical challenges in mapping and explaining their variation. The rise and successes of movement parties has consequential effects on broader patterns of democratic politics, representation, mobilization, and participation. They have the potential to reinvigorate democratic participation by bridging the electoral and protest arenas, or — by radicalizing the ‘grass-roots’ — open a new pathway for democratic backsliding. Their emergence might result in a spiral of polarisation where strong movement-party alliances impede political compromises (McAdam and Kloos 2014). The workshop focuses on differentiating similar sequences and pinpointing the diverse set of consequences the rise of movement parties has for various aspects of democratic politics.

The workshop aims to attract contributions focusing on movement parties and/or broader forms of interactions between social movements and political parties in democratic and (de-)democratizing settings. By bringing together a wide range of perspectives, we aim to bridge the rift between scholars of political parties and social movements, which hinders our adequate understanding of the past decade’s developments in both arenas. We are open to submissions from scholars working on these topics from political science, sociology or related disciplinary backgrounds. While we are also open to theoretical/ analytical papers, we encourage the participation of scholars conducting the empirical analysis of movement parties in both comparative and case-study designs. We are keen to attract scholars focusing on cases from different regions of Europe, the United States, Latin America, and/or other regions of the world. We will aim to include scholars with a diverse set of backgrounds, including, but not limited to the level of seniority, gender and geographical location. In terms of selecting papers, the workshop seeks contributions relating to three main objectives: 1) To clarify the definitional traits of movement parties and develop a typological understanding of the variety of forms taken across different contexts. This could include the different forms of radical challenge (political, ideological, strategic) which movement parties present in different contexts. 2) To develop a comparative analysis of the interactions of party and movement politics and to construct an extensive and thorough empirical basis of their study. This could include both descriptive and explanatory accounts of the interactions between movement parties and other ‘established’ parties in the party system, as well as with the media system and civil society actors. 3) To explore the democratic consequences of the emergence of movement parties in different contexts. Accounts may consider demand-side consequences, such as patterns of mobilization and participation, as well as those on the supply-side, for example, patterns of representation and changes to the party system. We look forward to contributions that address one, two or all three of these objectives. We make no restrictions regarding the level of analysis, and are open to manuscripts that address these themes at the macro (national), meso (organizational), or micro (individual) level. We hope that our workshop will provide its participants with a unique opportunity to further develop these and related issues relevant to the study of movement parties.