ECPR Joint Sessions
University of Nottingham, Nottingham
25 - 30 April 2017

Explaining Party Splits: A Comparative Study of 25 European Democracies

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Political Parties
Party Systems
Southern Europe
Raimondas Ibenskas
Universitetet i Bergen
Raimondas Ibenskas
Universitetet i Bergen

Party splits, mergers, electoral coalitions and label changes are relatively frequent in most democracies and have important consequences for political representation, electoral accountability, electoral outcomes and government formation and stability. Despite the high relevance of these phenomena, the research on them is still relatively limited. This research addresses this gap in the literature by providing one of the first systematic studies on the phenomenon of party fission. To explain party splits, it develops a theoretical framework that emphasizes parties’ office, electoral and policy goals. It tests this framework by using an innovative dataset on party splits in 24 European democracies in the post-war period and multi-level logistic regression models where the unit of analysis is party in an electoral period. The empirical results particularly emphasize the importance about the expectations about the post-fission electoral support for explaining party splits. The study makes an important contribution to the literature on party splits and party change by providing a systematic empirical analysis of fission in both established Western European and younger Central and Eastern European democracies.
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"In all forms of Government the people is the true Legislator" - Edmund Burke

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