ECPR General Conference
Universität Hamburg, Hamburg
22 - 25 August 2018

New Parties in Europe: A Comeback for the Parties or Just another Symptom for their Decline?

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Party Manifestos
Political Parties
Party Members
Comparative Perspective
Decision Making
Party Systems
Section Number
Section Chair
Kristina Weissenbach
University of Duisburg-Essen
Section Co-Chair
Gideon Rahat
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

A “wave of new parties” is currently rocking the European Union member states: Looking only at the elections in 2015, 2016 and 2017, in 23 EU member states 31 new political parties have entered national parliaments. Political parties such as the Italian Five Star Movement, the Spanish Ciudadanos and Podemos, the German Alternative, the Greek parties To Potami, ANEL or the left Syriza as well as the French La République en Marche are part of this wave. Those parties differ not only regarding their categorization on the left-right-axis, but also in terms of their genetic model, their organization, their financing or the way they organized their election campaigns. Moreover the emergence of those new parties affects the existing ‘old’ parties in the national party systems as well as the political parties at the European level.
Against this background, the Section welcomes Panels and Papers that address the following topics:

1. Party Newness, Party Competition and Party Change
There is no guarantee for the ‘lifetime’ of a party: in democratic political systems parties emerge but also disappear – sometimes out of the sudden. As changing circumstances push parties to change, renew or reinvent themselves, a key to party survival is precisely their ability to adapt to ever-changing social, political and electoral realities. To adapt to these realities, often parties must undergo change, including institutional reforms. The Section welcomes Panels that focus on this issue: How do new vs. old parties adapt to the aforementioned changing realities? How do new parties affect old parties? (How) Do they change in organizational terms? Do we have a new type of parties?

2. Populism and the Personalization of New Parties
Together with the wave of new parties we observe an intensification of populism and of the personalization of politics. Are many of the new political parties just a mere platform for ambitious politicians? (How) are the “old parties” reacting to the new rise of populism? Do they follow this example? Can we observe a change in campaigning strategies and beyond?

3. The Institutionalization of New Parties
The rise of new parties provides an opportunity to re-examine the theories, conceptions, and empirical findings concerning the institutionalization of political parties. The Section calls for Panels that focus on comparisons of old and new patterns of institutionalization and case studies, focused comparisons and large n concerning the institutionalization of new parties. It will also call for Papers that will examine which aspects of party-institutionalization matter for new parties’ survival and ‘success’. Which factors and processes allow a political party to grow into an institutionalized “player” or lead to their demise?

4. New Parties and their Electorate
The electoral success of new political parties in the party systems of the European Member states continues. Those new parties managed to mobilize both non-voters and the electorate of established parties. The Panel will examine the various aspects of electoral behavior and new parties and also the reactions of the older parties to these challenges. It will address questions such as: Who votes for these new parties? How can we explain various levels of electoral support of new parties in different elections and countries? Do young voters tend to support new parties more than older voters? How do the old parties react to the shift of the electorate: do they continue their old routines or try to imitate their infant competitors?

5. New Parties in the ‘Digital Era’
The new European parties of the 2010s where born in a ‘digital era’ – but are they all ‘digital natives’? The Section aims at Panels concerning the role of digital media practices on political parties, digital innovations within new parties (vs. old parties), with regard to its membership, to decision making processes, internal democracy and campaigning. Are new parties genuinely different in this respect from older ones? How do they organize (digital) mobilization? How active are they online and how popular are they in comparison to older parties? Does the online world reflect the offline world or does it supply an opportunity for new parties to make a breakthrough?

6. New Parties’ in the Europarties
The emergence – especially of new right-wing parties – affect the composition of the Europarties as well as their organization and decision-making processes. (How) do the Europarty-families react on the new parties? (How) do internal party decision-making processes change?

Our Section will feature both theoretical and empirical contributions, which are focusing on the phenomenon of new political parties in Europe. We welcome different approaches and methodologies, including conceptual, comparative and case study analyses as well as the employment of both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Gideon Rahat, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research fields are comparative politics and Israeli politics. His interests include political parties, electoral reform, the personalization of politics and candidate selection methods. He currently submitted a book manuscript (with Ofer Kenig) on party change and political personalization that will be published by Oxford University Press.

Kristina Weissenbach, postdoctoral research fellow, Institute for Political Science, University of Duisburg-Essen. Her research interests include party institutionalization in young and established democracies, political party assistance, political communication. Currently she is conducting a comparative research project on “New parties in Europe”.

Panel List

P118Disintermediation: A Pattern of Party Change in New Parties? View Panel Details
P216Inside New Parties: Party Members and Party Organization View Panel Details
P287New Parties and the Digital Era View Panel Details
P288New Parties and their Electorate View Panel Details
P312Party System Stability and Party System Change View Panel Details
P350Populism and the Personalization of New Parties View Panel Details
P462The Origin and Institutionalization of new Parties View Panel Details
P489The Study of Party Entry and Exit in Old and New Democracies View Panel Details
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"Aristocracies … may preserve themselves longest, but only democracies, which refresh their ruling class, can expand" - Hugh Trevor-Roper

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