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Presentation on theme: "PARTY SYSTEM CHANGE AND ELECTORAL VOLATILITY Readings: Ware C 7, Pedersen, Mair."— Presentation transcript:


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?  Ware 1996  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  Pattern has been maintained.  Fianna Fail has not governed in a single party cabinet in the post 1989 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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