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This book questions whether and to what extent a conjunctural phenomenon such as an economic crisis can bring about lasting political consequences. It focuses on the parties and party systems of four South European countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece) between 2008-15. The authors also consider how elections, protests, and interests are affected by the crisis in these four democracies, before assessing how to define the impact of the economic crisis on political participation and competition. In this vein the book analyzes relevant aspects of party systems, the notion of neo-populism as a key to understanding new actors of South European policy, and interest intermediation as a factor of weakness in managing the crisis. Finally, the authors summarize the empirical results emerging from the research: the partial reshaping of cleavages as well as the relevance of the establishment vs. anti-establishment cleavage for the emergence and success of neo-populist parties. The book will be of use to students and scholars interested in South European politics, comparative politics, and democracies.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Abstract
There are few doubts that a democratic regime can be deeply affected by economic crisis. This was so with reference to the great economic crises of the twentieth century, but it is also for the real estate and fiscal crises of 2008. What are the political consequences of this Great Recession? Are they limited or profound and serious? And what are the mechanisms at work that help to explain those consequences? The introduction emphasizes the channels of expression (election, protest, interests) that are affected by the crisis and empirical scope of the research, that is, the democracies of South Europe (Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain). In particular, specific attention will be given to the building of and the electoral success of new protest parties and to the relationships among the three channels of expression. Ultimately, the main question is how the economic crisis will affect the quality of our four democracies in terms of participation and competition.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

2. How to Analyse the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Democracies

Abstract
How to analyse the impact of economic crises on democracies in the South Europe? The theoretical framework of this key question is, first of all, set up by addressing the problem of how to define, specify and measure the impact of the independent variable: the economic crisis. In doing so the specificities of the Great Recession starting in about 2008 are emphasized also vis-à-vis the management of previous twentieth-century economic crises. After a short overview of the most recent literature, the focus goes on to the definition of the dependent variables, that is, of the dimensions or specific qualities contemporary democracies can vary. In particular, the chapter emphasizes the role of the two critical classic qualities, participation and competition with its sub-dimensions. The central explanatory hypothesis suggests that the actual impact depends on the effective existence of background conditions for change, and accordingly, the economic crisis has a catalysing effect on those conditions.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

3. What Innovative Destruction? Changes in Parties and Party Systems

Abstract
The radical transformation of the party system in the four cases of South European democracies in the light of institutionalized participation and of competition are analysed starting since the early 1990s. The attention is directed to the analysis of the decline in voter turnout and party memberships, the electoral volatility and party fragmentation, the electoral radicalization, the re-shaping of cleavages, the left/right cleavage included. The changes in all these dimensions are conceptualized as outcomes of a process of the format and mechanics of party systems of South Europe. The analysis of the pattern of change singles out three main paths: alienation and partisan continuity, movement mobilization and stabilization, immediate party stabilization. In these patterns, we also see the success of new protest or neo-populist parties, which is closely associated with the recessive economic situation and the growing dissatisfaction of the national public opinion.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

4. The New Protest Parties

Abstract
The nature, formation and role of the new protest parties or neo-populist in South Europe are put under close scrutiny. The examined parties are SYRIZA in Greece, the Five Star Movement in Italy, Podemos in Spain, Livre and the Partido da Terra/Partido Democrático Republicano in Portugal. The Golden Dawn in Greece, the Northern League in Italy and Ciudadanos in Spain are the other protest competitors in their respective political systems, and consequently, are also considered. The chapter analyses the electoral results and whether they become incumbent parties at national or local levels. These outcomes are also analysed in the light of the mobilization of the protest, the electoral strategies they carry out, organizational dilemmas that characterize them and the policies they propose. In conclusion, the focus is on the notion of neo-populism as a key to understand these new actors of South European policy.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

5. New Patterns in Interests and Movements

Abstract
The chapter starts with an analysis of the channels of political representation within democracies, by emphasizing its diversity and interdependence. At the same time, it shows that one of the main effects of the 2008 Great Recession has been the decline of all institutionalized channels, be they through elections and parties, or be they through interest groups and associations. Indeed, the crisis of interest associations, trade unions included, and of neo-corporatist arrangements has been a factor of weakness in the management of the crisis: the governments lost one of the main factors of regulations through the interest intermediate structures. This situation is clearly new with respect to what happened during the crisis of 1929, in post-war reconstruction, and in some respects, even during the stagflation of the 1970s. The crisis of functional channels favoured the formulation of selective austerity policies that have ended up aggravating the effects of the crisis and at the same time have fuelled the use of non-conventional channels of political expression with protest movements. The chapter also highlights the national characteristics of the relationships among the different channels of representation, while emphasizing the flexibility in their use by voters as a common factor in all four cases.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

6. Conclusions

Abstract
The final chapter returns to the starting questions set out in Chapters 1 and 2, and summarizes the empirical results emerging from research beyond the analysis of the impact of the crisis in terms of traditional voting behaviour and growing electoral volatility. In doing so, it ironically highlights how, on the one hand, the traditional parties adapt to the new context and, on the other hand, how they coexist with the new protest parties. The concluding remarks also emphasize the partial reshaping of cleavages and the relevance of the establishment vs. anti-establishment cleavage for the emergence and success of the neo-populist parties. Finally, the additional empirical results show, then, two final questions. First, how because of the weakening of the three main channels of representation those became relatively more flexible and potentially interchangeable with citizens making use of vote, protest or more informally interest channel (see Chapter 4). Second, the patterns of change, already singled out and discussed in Chapter 2, eventually and counterintuitively imply a relaunch of the partisan channel. Of course, one where the old traditional mass parties belong to the past is impossible to be revitalized, and parties are rather characterized by leadership and digital technologies.
Leonardo Morlino, Francesco Raniolo

Backmatter

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