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Presentation on theme: "PARTY SYSTEM CHANGE AND ELECTORAL VOLATILITY"— Presentation transcript:

Readings: Ware C 7, Pedersen, Mair

2 Guiding Questions How do we identify party system change?
Why do we care? How do we measure party system change? What is volatility? Total volatility? Inter-area volatility?

3 Party System Change: Why Care?
Provides a snapshot of the political system within a given country. Number and types of parties tell us something about the political systems. Some argue that party systems reflect major divisions within society That is, when the system changes, society has changed. Some suggest systemic change indicates a weakening of political parties as socially based entities. Debate over whether or not this is troubling for democracy. Others contend that systemic change may result in the strengthening of extreme parties.

4 Durability of Party Systems
Many party systems in the 1970’s and 1980’s looked similar to their 1950’s counterparts. Party system change following “earthquake elections” turned out to be temporary. But the 1980’s and the 1990’s were associated with: 1) The rise of Green parties and the “New Right” challenging existing party systems. 2) Advances in technology, improved education, and a reliance on media and interest groups 3) A decline in the vote share received by major parties. And the 2000’s have seen the rise of populist extreme right and anti-capitalist parties This rise of new parties and new movements not associated with a change in institutions. Radical institutional change is rare. Something else seemed to be happening. Fosters debate over whether or not party systems have permanently changed in advanced industrial democracies

5 What Constitutes Systemic Change?
Question: What constitutes party system change? No widespread agreement. Explanations focus on: 1) Changes in the composition of the electorate. 2) Increased levels of electoral volatility. 3) Shifts in values (realignment vs. dealignment).

6 Composition of the Electorate
Ware 1996 Changes in the electorate can shape the party system. Electorate can change in three ways: 1) migration to and from the state 2) territorial changes 3) generational changes But these types of changes are rare.

7 Volatility and Party System Change
Volatility: measures the change in vote from one election to the next. Are voters shifting their votes between elections? Raises several questions: 1) Have electorates become more volatile? Dalton and Wattenberg et al:. Yes. Ware: not a universal phenomenon. Some systems appear to be stable while others appear to be volatile.

8 How Are Voters Changing?
2) If voters are shifting their votes, where are their votes going? Are voters 1) Turning to new political parties? 2) Switching to similar political parties? 3) Switching to older parties which are very different to their old party? Mair: most voters are switching to parties with similar outlooks as their previous party. Probably not systemic change

9 Does Volatility = Change?
3) What does an increase in electoral volatility mean? Lipset and Rokkan suggest that party systems/cleavage patterns are “frozen” Some argue that increased volatility is a sign of“thawing” By definition, evidence of change. Does volatility indicate systemic change? Jury is out. Pedersen Electoral volatility can indicate party system change. Mair: Volatility in and of itself is not suggestive of systemic change.

10 Freezing? Not So Fast… Pedersen 1979
Events of the mid 1970’s challenge Lipset and Rokkan’s freezing hypothesis. Cites elections in the US, UK, and Denmark as evidence. Focus on changes in the party system in terms of “format”: 1) the number of parties in the system 2) the distribution of electoral strength.

11 Freezing? Not So Fast… Pedersen 1979
Electoral volatility (net change within the electoral party system from vote transfers) is the key variable. Volatility gauges shifts in vote strength between parties in between elections. Disaggregates party systems. Methodology allows for the model to discriminate between types of party systems. Contends that there are multiple types of systems. Some are relatively stable and others that are remarkably volatile.

12 Volatility and Societal Shifts
Mair 1983 Party system change involves changes in primary conflicts within the system. Requires looking beyond changes in number and vote share of political parties. Understanding and identifying systemic change requires an understanding of the direction of electoral volatility Not just a focus on total volatility

13 Total vs. Inter Area Volatility
Mair 1983 Pedersen’s volatility levels are associated with total or electoral volatility. Good measure for identifying short term trends (i.e. durability of specific parties). Not suited for identifying long terms trends. Inter area volatility: measures volatility across primary conflicts (i.e. between parties of the left and the right). Captures systemic change by focusing on shifts in primary conflicts (i.e. persistence/change within cleavages). Well suited to explaining long term trends. Finds inter area volatility to be lower than total volatility. Mair 1987 Duration of change is also relevant Requires examination of individual party systems. Opens up the door for an examination of changing values as an explanation for party system change.

14 Conclusion: Ireland and System Change?
Prior to 1989, the system revolved around Fianna Fail and “the rest” Pattern of governance: Fianna Fail majority or minority government or FG/Labour “Rainbow coalition”. Voting structured around whether or not to place (or return) Fianna Fail to office. Ended in 1989 Splits in FF led to a breakaway party: Progressive Democrats. 1989 elections: coalition of FF and PD

15 Conclusion: Ireland and Systemic Change
Mair 1997 1992: Elections made a minority Fianna Fail government non viable. Formed a coalition with Labour; coalition fell in 1994. Pattern has been maintained. Fianna Fail has not governed in a single party cabinet in the post era. Prior to 2011, Irish parties receive roughly the same vote share has they had previously. BUT, parties compete for very different groups in society. AND, patterns of competition have changed. This would not be picked up by examining total volatility. But inter area volatility would pick this up.

16 Next Unit Theme: Party System Change-The Freezing of Party Systems and Realignment Readings: Reserves: Flanagan and Dalton, Inglehart and Flanagan, Shamir, Mair


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