From hero to zero, and back? Strategies of historical mainstream parties to counter electoral decline: combinations and their effects

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Comparative politics
    • Voting behaviour
    • Political behaviour not elsewhere classified
    • Party politics
    • Political organisations and institutions not elsewhere classified
Party change Electoral decline of West-European mainstream parties Electoral strategies
Project description

After years of decline, the once almighty mainstream parties have hit their electoral low point in many West-European countries. This raises questions regarding government formation, manageability and even the stability of the political system. Despite this general downward trend, there are variations between parties, countries and elections regarding the electoral outcome. I want to investigate how these historical mainstream parties managed to counter this trend, and more in particular, by which (combination of) strategies some of these parties have succeeded to (re-)gain votes. This research is innovative because it focusses on combinations of strategies, arguing that the effects of one strategy depend on the context and the other implemented strategies. Furthermore, it draws on a mixed-method design where I rely on QCA, regression analysis and a survey experiment to investigate this topic. In this study I specifically focus on four categories of strategies: programmatic-, organizational- and personnel change and the change of coalition partner. The electoral consequences of these 16 possible combinations of strategies are studied within 36 mainstream parties in 12 West-European countries between 1990-2019.