The Structure of Political Competition in Western Europe: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Structure of Political Competition in Western Europe

1st Edition

Edited by Zsolt Enyedi, Kevin Deegan-Krause


320 pages

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Is European party politics hovering above society? Why do voters pick one party over others? Is it a question of class? Of religion? Of attitudes about taxes or immigration or global warming? Or is it something else entirely? The Structure of Political Competition in Western Europe takes a detailed look at the ways in which Western Europe’s party systems are anchored in social and ideological structures. The book’s first section focuses on the role of social structures - particularly education, class and religion - and analyzes the complex interplay among these factors. The second section addresses the ways that the sociological structures such as class and religion interact with voters’ values. The third section examines the way that these structures and values shape the space of political competition among parties. The conclusion integrates the findings of the empirical articles, putting them into broader comparative perspective, discussing whether relatively predictable structures have been overwhelmed by media-driven spectacles, political personalities and focus on short-term economic performance.

This volume will appeal to scholars and graduate students in Europe and those from North America, Asia and other regions who study European politics, political parties, cleavages and political behaviour.

This book was published as a special issue of West European Politics.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Zsolt Enyedi and Kevin Deegan-Krause

2. The education cleavage – the Danish case study in comparative European perspective Rune Stubager

3. Explaining the establishment of a new political force: The social structural roots of Green politics Martin Dolezal

4. The regional cleavage in Western Europe: The role of social structure, value orientations and territorial identities for explaining the impact of region on party choice Oddbjorn Knutsen

5. Cleavage and ideological voting across generations: effects of religion, class and left-right on the vote in different age cohorts Wouter van der Brug

6. Freezing? The Impact of Structural vs. Value Cleavages on the Stabilization of Party Systems Gabor Toka and Tanja Gosselin

7. Reshaping of Class Alliances: How Welfare Regimes and Responses to Deindustrialization Reshape the Social Base of Party Voting in Advanced Industrial Economies Andrija Henjak

8. New Cultural Divides, Denationalization, and the Two-Dimensional Political Space in Western Europe Simon Bornschier

9. Dimensionality in Western Europe: Concepts and Empirical Findings Heather Stoll

10. The "Grand Debate" on dealignment and realignment Geoffrey Evans, Mark Franklin, Herbert Kitschelt and Hanspeter Kriesi

11. Conclusion Kevin Deegan-Krause and Zsolt Enyedi

About the Editors

Zsolt Enyedi is Associate Professor at the Political Science Department of the Central European University, Budapest. His research interests focus on party politics, comparative government, church and state relations, and political psychology. His articles have appeared in journals like Party Politics, Europe-Asia Studies, European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, Democratization and Social Thought and Research.

Kevin Deegan-Krause is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is the author of Elected Affinities: Democracy and Party Competition in Slovakia and the Czech Republic (Stanford University Press, 2006). His work has also appeared in Party Politics, the Journal of Democracy, East European Politics and Societies as well as in newspapers, magazines and his blog,

About the Series

West European Politics

West European Politics has established itself as the foremost journal for the comparative analysis of European political institutions, politics and public policy. Its comprehensive scope, which includes the European Union, makes it essential reading for both academics and political practitioners. The books in this series have originated from special issues published by West European Politics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties