New parties for all: the effect of ideological incongruence on new party formation in Western democracies

M. van de Wardt, Simon Otjes



This study examines how ideological incongruence between voters and parties influences the entry of new parties in national party systems. This is an important question since previous research has mostly focused on the entry of specific party families – mostly successful parties like green and radical right. In turn, generic studies on the entry of any type of party have mostly focused on whether new parties will emerge instead of where in the party system they will do so. While agent based models predict that new parties will emerge in locations where citizens the least experience ideological congruence, it remains an unexplored question to what extent these computer simulations generalize to the “real world”. This study fills these voids by empirically examining whether: (1) parties will be more likely to enter if ideological incongruence between voters and parties increases and (2) how increasing incongruence in the left-wing, center and right-wing niche of the party system influences the entry of leftwing, centrist and rightwing parties. In line with the theory of strategic entry and agent-based models, we hypothesize that parties should enter in those locations where voter preferences are being left unattended. To measure ideological incongruence we rely on data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems database, which contains data on respondents’ self-placement as well as their placement of parties along the left-right dimension. Data on party entry, in turn, is acquired from a new, original dataset. Party entry is modelled by means of event history analysis at the party/election level. At the higher level, we have data on 60 elections that took place in 21 advanced western democracies. The results have important implications for theories on strategic entry, political representation, and party system change.
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Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 2018
EvenementECPR General Conference Hamburg - Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Duur: 22-aug-201825-aug-2018


ConferenceECPR General Conference Hamburg
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