Building: VMP 8 Floor: Ground Room: 06
This panel will cast new light on explanations of entry and exit of parties from national party systems in European democracies. New party success is one of the striking features of democratic politics in recent years. The most prominent example is En Marche. Other parties across Europe, although without reaching the same levels of success, include Spain’s Podemos and Ciudadanos, Italy’s M5S, the United Kingdom Independence Party, Germany’s AfD, the Dutch Denk and Forum voor Democratie, Austria’s Team Stronach and Neos, Polands’ Kukitz’15, Bulgaria’s GERB, or the Czech Action of Dissatisfied Citizens. Simultaneously, though having received much less attention, we find instances of party exit. Consider how Italy’s Christian Democrats fell apart in 1994, or the total disappearance of the Netherlands’ Lijst Pim Fortuyn and Ireland’s Progressive Democrats, the absence of the Simeon II Movement from the most recent Bulgarian elections, or the partial exit (i.e., merger) of Latvia’s New Era Party and Lithuania’s National Resurrection Party. Party entry and exit renews the vote choice, a key ingredient to a healthy democracy. However, both processes may also increase electoral fragmentation and threaten a country’s governability. How party systems organize and develop is therefore a highly controversial topic in many countries.
First, the different papers will explore different conceptualizations of entry and exit. Entry and exit may, for instance, refer to a party’s first and last participation in legislative elections, but also to whether a party manages to stay above a certain threshold of success, e.g., whether it remains represented in the national legislature. Additionally, different types of entry and exit exist like parties build from scratch, splits, mergers and successor parties. This panel also links party turnover to candidate turnover, arguing that genuinely new parties should also bring in new candidates and that parties only exit if they take their candidates with them. Second, we will explore a large array of causes of entry and exit, including characteristics of the party (e.g., internal organization, rootedness in society, ideology) as well as its external environment (e.g., voter preferences, presence of representational gaps in the party system, party finance arrangements and demographic changes). Third, the panel covers both Western and Central European party systems, thus, allowing for comparisons between patterns of party entry and exit across both regions. Some have argued that as compared to Western European party systems, Central European party systems remain unpredictable and are still far from consolidation. However, empirical evidence has shown that also Western European electorates are becoming increasingly volatile, which raises the question to what extent Western and Central European party systems still diverge. Fourth, the different papers cover different levels of analysis, including the perspective of party systems, parties and voters. Last, the abstracts enclosed below employ a wide range of research methods, including large-N statistical analysis and case study research, whereby some papers rely on original, newly collected data.