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New Political Parties as Innovators: Formation and Success (Cumulative Thesis)


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). New Political Parties as Innovators: Formation and Success (Cumulative Thesis). PhD Thesis, University of Cologne, Cologne.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-B970-B
This cumulative dissertation investigates the formation and success of new political parties in developed democracies from the perspective of the programmatic competition between parties (see. introduction in chapter 1). It starts by arguing that the current state of the programmatic supply by existing parties is a central determinant for the likelihood of new party formation (chapter 2). A low programmatic diversity of existing parties creates scope for programmatic innovations by new parties. The dissertation establishes a connection between the literature on new parties and niche parties by analyzing the latter as typical cases of innovating new parties (chapter 3). For this purpose, the author combines two concepts with corresponding measures in order to capture the programmatic profiles of parties. Nicheness refers to differences in the emphasis of topics between a given party and its counterparts while programmatic concentration shows the narrowness of a given policy profile. Chapter 4 investigates how the variation in the programmatic profiles of niche parties affect their long-term electoral performance. Previous studies on niche parties have not fully taken into account the evolutionary aspect of the programmatic profiles of these parties. Acknowledging the variation in programmatic profiles between niche parties and over time, the article argues that the electoral effects of nicheness and programmatic concentration as programmatic features of niche parties vary over their lifecycle. The literature on new parties assumes that they can benefit from the poor representation of parts of the electorate by existing parties. This strand of research provides plausible results, but it operates on the macro level, which is problematic for theoretical and methodological reasons. The study in chapter 5 overcomes these problems through a multilevel analysis of the vote choice between new parties, existing parties and abstention.