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Are Niches Parties Really Different? The Programmatic Profiles of Green and Extreme Right Parties


Zons,  Gregor
International Max Planck Research School on the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Zons, G. (2015). Are Niches Parties Really Different? The Programmatic Profiles of Green and Extreme Right Parties. Talk presented at The Manifesto Project User Conference. (WZB) Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung. 2015-06-04 - 2015-06-05.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-B94C-5
The debate about how to best define the niche party concept is still on-going. At the same time, empirical studies test causal claims linked to these parties and their programmatic features. However, there is a lack of systematically investigating their programmatic profiles as a whole and how these profiles change over time. Therefore, this study captures complete programmatic profiles of parties by two characteristics: (1) nicheness refers to programmatic differences to other parties while (2) programmatic concentration is linked to the range of issues a party addresses and the degree of emphasis it puts on these issues. Based on data of the Manifesto Research Group/Comparative Manifestos Project (MRG/CMP), I operationalize both programmatic features by two continuous measures and compare green and extreme right parties, as typical cases of niche parties in the literature, with their competitors and over time. While controlling for statistical uncertainty due to the stochastic process of text generation, results first show that these parties in the majority of cases do not exhibit significant differences in nicheness and programmatic concentration. Secondly, nicheness and programmatic concentration of these parties change in different directions over time. Overall, results of this study question the static classification of niche parties along the lines of party family membership and call for a closer look on programmatic profiles of parties and their changes in general.