The Reshaping of West European Party Politics: Agenda-Setting and Party Competition in Comparative Perspective

ISBN : 9780198842897

Christoffer Green-Pedersen
240 ページ
156 x 234 mm
Comparative Politics

Long gone are the times when class-based political parties with extensive membership dominated politics. Instead, party politics has become issue-based. Surprisingly few studies have focused on how the issue content of West European party politics has developed over the past decades. Empirically, Reshaping of West European Party Politics studies party politics in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK from 1980 and onwards. This book highlights the more complex party system agenda with the decline, but not disappearance, of macroeconomic issues as well as the rise in 'new politics' issues together with education and health care. Moreover, various 'new politics' issues such as immigration, the environment, and European integration have seen very different trajectories.

To explain the development of the individual issues, this volume develops a new theoretical model labelled the 'issue incentive model' of party system attention. The aim of the model is to explain how much attention issues get throughout the party system, which is labelled 'the party system agenda'. To explain the development of the party system agenda, one needs to focus on the incentives that individual policy issues offer to large, mainstream parties, i.e. the typical Social Democratic, Christian Democratic, or Conservative/Liberal parties that have dominated West European governments for decades. The core idea of the model is that the incentives that individual policy issues offer to these vote and office-seeking parties depend on three factors, namely issue characteristics, issue ownership, and coalition considerations. The issue incentive model builds on and develops a top-down perspective on which the issue content of party politics is determined by the strategic considerations of political parties and their competition with each other.

Comparative Politics is a series for researchers, teachers, and students of political science that deals with contemporary government and politics. Global in scope, books in the series are characterised by a stress on comparative analysis and strong methodological rigour. The series is published in association with the European Consortium for Political Research. For more information visit: www.ecprnet.eu.

The series is edited by Emilie van Haute, Professor of Political Science, Universite libre de Bruxelles; Ferdinand Muller-Rommel, Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Leuphana University; and Susan Scarrow, John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Political Science, University of Houston.


List of figures
List of tables
1 What has happened to party politics in Western Europe: New parties, new issues, and new conflicts?
2 Bottom-up or top-down? Theoretical approaches to the content of West European party politics
3 The issue incentive model of party system attention
4 Data sources for the study of the party system agenda
5 The development of the party system agenda in Western Europe: an overview
6 The dynamics of the party system agenda
7 Expansion from the right. The growth of immigration on the party system agenda
8 An ever-sleeping giant? European integration on the party system agenda
9 Up and down with the environment
10 Attention to education in the post-industrial society
11 Everyone really loves health care
12 The issue content of West European party politics: The central role of large, mainstream parties, but for how long?


Christoffer Green-Pedersen is Professor of Political Science at Aarhus University. He has published extensively on party competition, agenda setting, and public policy in comparative perspective. He is the founder of the Danish policy agenda project.