Humboldt Research Fellowship Project
Stijn van Kessel
Traditional mainstream political parties across Europe are increasingly challenged by new parties or parties that formerly played a minor role in opposition. Some of those non-established parties have even secured access to executive power. This research seeks to explain why some of these newly governing parties manage to bear the costs of taking government responsibility, while many, if not most, fail to live up to expectations and suffer great losses in the subsequent parliamentary election. Are newly governing parties inherently disadvantaged in terms of their electoral survival and, if so, are existing parties then truly forced to be responsive to new societal demands? Only a limited number of studies have focused on this topic, and the study adds to the literature by providing a systematic pan-European comparison of newly governing parties. It assesses whether similar patterns can be observed in the relatively new post-communist democracies as in the long established democracies in Europe. Further, while existing comparative studies have often focused on structural explanations for the success or failure of new parties, this study moves beyond such explanations by focusing more explicitly on the agency of newly governing parties themselves. Finally, the study is methodologically innovative by triangulating research methods of a qualitative and quantitative nature.