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Über dieses Buch

This book studies how established political parties react to the far left and far right parties that have surged in many democracies worldwide. While some of the extremist parties are being imitated in response, established parties can also choose to systematically rule out all political cooperation with them, imposing a cordon sanitaire. A third response by established parties combines these two reactions. How common are these three responses, and how do they affect far left and far right parties’ electoral support? This book addresses these questions by analyzing experimental and non-experimental data from fifteen European countries since 1944. In doing so, it informs scientific and public debates about challenges to established parties, how these parties deal with these challenges, and what the consequences are for the quality of democracy in contemporary democratic societies.



Chapter 1. Introduction

One of the world’s most widely known political parties is Front national (FN) in France. In 2007, something remarkable happened to this party. FN’s vote share, which had been well over 10% at each national election since 1993, fell to 4%. What caused this sudden decline? This, we claim, was largely due to established parties’ behaviour. It is an example of what we call the Parroting the Pariah Effect. In this book, we argue and demonstrate empirically that established parties can trigger this effect by combining two specific reactions to a particular other party. First, treating that party as a pariah—i.e., systematically boycotting it. Second, parroting the party—i.e., co-opting its policies. Through boycotting a party while co-opting its key policy issue positions, established parties can damage that party electorally. This way, established parties control the electoral marketplace.
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 2. Parrot Parties: Established Parties’ Co-optation of Other Parties’ Policy Proposals

This chapter revolves around parties imitating each other. In particular, it is about established parties imitating a challenger party in terms of its core policy issue position. It begins from summarising theory and previous work about such “parroting.” It continues with proof of imitation in 15 contemporary West European countries and zooms in on several empirical examples. This chapter then discusses possible causes of imitation, and ends with suggested effects on the electoral support for the imitated parties, introducing the “parrot hypothesis.”
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 3. Pariah Parties: Established Parties’ Systematic Boycotting of Other Parties

This chapter is about established parties boycotting a particular other party. The systematic refusal to politically cooperate in any way with a party is defined as “ostracising” that party. After elaborating on the concept of ostracism and theory underlying it, previous work is discussed as well as empirical examples. This chapter proceeds by categorising 13 anti-immigration parties and 15 communist parties in 15 West European countries as either “ostracised” or “non-ostracised.” Finally, possible electoral effects are theorised about and a “pariah hypothesis” is introduced to the reader.
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 4. The Parroting the Pariah Effect: Theoretical Framework

Chapter Two focused on parroted parties and Chapter Three on pariah parties. This chapter concentrates on parroted pariah parties. It is the first of three chapters in which we argue and demonstrate empirically that parroting the pariah can be an effective weapon in the hands of established parties. This chapter outlines the analytical framework on which the parroting the pariah hypothesis is based.
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 5. The Parroting the Pariah Effect: Aggregate-Level Evidence

In this chapter and the next, we demonstrate empirically that, on average, the strategy of parroting the pariah substantially reduces a challenger party’s electoral attractiveness. We do so in this chapter on the basis of election results of 28 parties in 15 West European countries since 1944. Just as in the following chapter, we do not find consistent empirical support for the parrot hypothesis or the pariah hypothesis. At the same time, our research produces corroborating evidence for the parroting the pariah hypothesis.
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 6. The Parroting the Pariah Effect: Individual-Level Evidence

This is the second of two chapters in which we show empirical evidence in support of the Parroting the Pariah Effect. Based on experimental and non-experimental individual-level data we find that, on average, simultaneously imitating and isolating a challenger party reduces its electoral support. The votes that the party in that case loses are policy-driven ones.
Joost van Spanje

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Sometimes political parties co-opt a specific other party’s policy issue positions. Sometimes political parties systematically boycott a specific other party. In this book, we have argued, and demonstrated empirically, that the combination of these measures reduces the targeted party’s electoral support. In this conclusion, we summarize our empirical findings as well as their theoretical and practical implications. We also list several limitations of this study and conclude by outlining four avenues for future research.
Joost van Spanje


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