Building: (Building D) Faculty of Law, Administration & Economics Floor: 2nd floor Room: 2
It is now a cliché to state that populist parties are successful. However, it also a truism. Populist parties are present in most party systems across Europe. The success of populist parties begs the question: What has the effect of populist parties been on party systems? Have party systems been forced to react to the presence of populist parties? For example, populist parties may alter the manner in which non-populist parties compete. Or the presence of populist parties may lead to a more fragmented or polarized party system. These are some of the questions addressed in “Absorbing the Blow”.
More specifically, this edited collection examines the effect of populist parties on eleven European party systems. The results are mixed. The book finds that impact often depends on the influence that populist parties have had on mainstream political parties -- those that hitherto dominated party competition. In some instances, populist parties reinforce existing patterns of competition and government formation. Party systems that were bipolar continue to be bipolar. In others change occurs, either because populist parties make it difficult for mainstream parties to form coalitions that were hitherto possible, or because their presence allows mainstream parties to form coalitions that were not previously conceivable. This collection seeks to analyse the way in which mainstream parties absorb the blow of populist party activity, and concludes that populist parties are one of several factors contributing to changes in party systems.
Using this edited collection as a starting point, first, this panel will present the book’s framework for assessing the impact of populist parties on party systems and party system change. Second, the panel will allow authors form several chapters to reflect and update on the conclusions from their chapters and from the book. In sum, the panel will assess the influence that populist parties have had on contemporary European party systems.