Political Parties

Note: w+numbers refer to working papers below on this page.

Party organization moderates party behavior:

1. Parties differ in the degree to which they are dominated by their leaders or their activists (SVV 2013, JOP; W1)

2. Formal institutions relate to the degree of leadership domination, but rather poorly. Expert judgments of party organization are not synonymous with formal institutional settings (W1).

3.The more leadership-dominated the party, the more likely it is to follow the mean voter, the more activist-dominated the party, the more likely it is to follow the party voter (SVV 2013, JOP; S 2015, PP).

4.Leadership-dominated parties underperform in terms of representation compared to activist-dominated parties (W2).

5.Leadership-dominated parties change more in terms of their position on issues and their attention to issues than activist-dominated parties (W3).

6.Social Democratic parties only chose Third Way strategies if they underwent significant party organizational change (S 2012, WEP; MS 2013, EPSR).


More inclusive selection methods for the party leader:

1. Decrease the duration of leadership (EJS 2015, OUP).

2. Cause temporary bumps in public support if a new leader is elected (PS 2015, OUP).

3. Make a party more leadership-dominated (W1).


Party performance influences party behavior:

1. Because of the outlook of losing government, government parties change more in terms of their election manifesto than opposition parties (SWVK 2015, AJPS).

2. Especially government parties – that have for long been permanent opposition parties – are likely to change a lot after their first period in government (W4).

3. We re-produce these findings (1 and 2) at the level of politicians (W5).

4. Coalition partners drift apart programmatically at the next election, but are likely to stick together if they share a history of co-governing or do well in the polls (W6).

5. Due to the prospect of losing votes, mainstream parties have accommodated some of the welfare chauvinism of populist parties (SK 2014, PP).



Most of the research on this topic was carried in the project ‘Do Party Leaders Respond to the Party, the Electorate or to Coalition Partners?’ (financed by the Danish Council for Independent Research Sapere Aude Ung Eliteforsker – DKK 2.7 million) or was a part of my dissertation work.


Working papers

W1. Who leads the Party? On membership size, selectorates and party oligarchy (with Nathalie Giger). Under review.

W2. Bringing party organization back in: A comparative analysis of party representation in Europe (with Nathalie Giger).

W3. Do Leadership-Dominated Parties Change More? (with Nathalie Giger). Please comment on our working paper.

W4. Office Rookies Feeling the Blues: Why and How Office Changes Longstanding Opposition Parties (with Michael Baggesen Klitgaard, Barbara Vis and Marc van de Wardt).

W5. Radicalize or Moderate? How politicians respond to party performance (with Christian Elmelund-Præstekær). Please comment on our working paper.

W6. Do Coalition Partners Drift Apart or Stick Together? An analysis of party platform changes in 11 Western European countries (with Mariken van der Velden).