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THE PARTY POLITICS OF FOREIGN POLICY AS INSTANCE OF INTERNATIONAL-DOMESTIC SYSTEMIC INTERACTION: 4 EXAMPLES OF PARTY-BASED FOREIGN POLICY CONTESTATION

Angelos-Stylianos Chryssogelos
Kings College London
Open Panel

Abstract

By combining insights from the agency/structure debate in IR, FPA, and party systems theory, this paper conceptualizes cases of political party-based contestation of foreign policy as instances of interplay between the international system and domestic party systems. Party-based contestation of foreign policy exists when a change in the international structure energizes fundamentally different interpretations of the state’s international position by socially embedded partisan actors. These actors are situated within party systems that structure societal cleavages and codify patterns of interactions and that, by constraining and enabling political agency, filter the effects of the international system on foreign policy and domestic politics. The theoretical argument is that the study of party-based politicization of foreign policy reveals one of the paths through which the international system affects domestic politics, and that one can better understand the domestic dynamics of foreign policy by bringing the international dimension in. The paper presents the primary results of an empirical comparative research on 3 cases of party-based foreign policy change: West German Ostpolitik, the Canadian free trade agreement with the US, and New Zealand’s exit from ANZUS. It will also deal with a case of foreign policy contestation in which the result was foreign policy stability. In all cases the focus will be on the capacity of political agency within a thick environment of domestic and international norms, to affect the pace of expression of otherwise socially-bound interpretations of a foreign policy issue. The empirical point to be made is that foreign policy change is a contingent event, hinging on the interplay between international material and normative conditions, patterns of expression of societal cleavages, and political agency.