New party parliamentary entry in Western Europe, 1960-2010

Main Article Content

Niklas Bolin


Although the number of studies of new political parties is gradually increasing, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of when new parties manage to enter national parliaments. The objective of this article is to explain the circumstances under which new parties enter national parliaments for the first time. Unlike earlier research, this study does not focus on individual party families. Instead, generally applicable explanations are sought. This is achieved through an examination of the importance of the political opportunity structure, that is, the external environment new parties face in their quest for parliamentary representation. Using data collected for 18 Western European countries for the period 1960-2010, the analysis shows that institutional factors are important to understand new party parliamentary entry. The sociological factors analysed in the study, however, do not seem to be of equal importance.

Article Details

Author Biography

Niklas Bolin, Mid Sweden University

Department of Social Sciences


Armingeon, Klaus, David Weisstanner, Sarah Engler, Panajotis Potolidis, Marlène Gerber and Philipp Leimgruber (2011) ‘Comparative Political Data Set I 1960-2009’, URL (consulted 16 November 2011):

Arzheimer, Kai (2009) ‘Contextual Factors and the Extreme Right Vote in Western Europe, 1980–2002’, American Journal of Political Science, 53(2): 259–275.

Arzheimer, Kai and Elisabeth Carter (2006) ‘Political Opportunity Structures and Right-Wing Extremist Party Success’ European Journal of Political Research, 45(3): 419-443.

Beck, Nathaniel, Jonathan N.Kat and Richard Tucker (1998) ‘Taking Time Seriously: Time-Series-Cross-Section Analysis with a Binary Dependent Variable’, American Journal of Political Science, 42(4): 1260-1288.

Bernhagen, Patrick, and Michael Marsh (2007) ‘The partisan effects of low turnout: Analyzing vote abstention as a missing data problem’, Electoral Studies, 26(3): 548-560.

Bischoff, Carina S. (2009) ‘National level electoral thresholds: Problems and solutions’, Electoral Studies, 28(2): 232–239.

Bochsler, Daniel. (2011) ‘It is not how many votes you get, but also where you get them. Territorial determinants and institutional hurdles for the success of ethnic minority parties in post-communist countries’, Acta Politica, 46(3): 217–238.

Bolin, Niklas (2012) Målsättning riksdagen. Ett aktörsperspektiv på nya partiers inträde i nationella parlament. Umeå: Umeå University.

Bolleyer, Nicole (2013) New Parties in Old Party Systems. Persistence and Decline in Seventeen Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cotta, Maurizio, and Luca Verzichelli (2007) Political Institutions in Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dunteman, George. H., and Moon-Ho R Ho (2006) An Introduction to Generalized Linear Models. Thousands Oaks: Sage.

Duverger, Maurice (1964) Political Parties. Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State. London: Methuen.

Finseraas, Henning and Kåre Vernby (2014) ’A mixed blessing for the left? Early voting, turnout and election outcomes in Norway’, Electoral Studies, 33: 278-291.

Gallagher, Michael (1991) ‘Proportionality, Disproportionality and Electoral Systems’, Electoral Studies, 10(1): 33-51.

Garson, G. David (2012) Logistic Regression: Binomial and Multinomial. Asheboro, NC: Statistical Associates Publishers.

Golder, Matt (2003) ‘Explaining Variation in the Success of Extreme Right Parties in Western Europe, Comparative Political Studies, 36(4): 432-466.

Harmel, Robert, and John. D. Robertson (1985) ‘Formation and Success of New Parties - A Cross National Analysis’, International Political Science Review, 6(4): 501-523.

Hauss, Charles, and David Rayside (1978) ‘The Development of New Parties in Western Democracies since 1945’, in Louis Maisel and Joseph Cooper (eds) Political Parties: Development and Decay. Beverly Hills: Sage.

Hino, Airo (2012) New Challenger Parties in Western Europe. A Comparative Analysis. London: Routledge.

Hoffmann, John P. (2004) Generalized Linear Models. An Applied Approach. Boston: Pearson Education.

Hooghe, Liesbeth, Gary Marks and Arjan. H. Schakel (2010) The Rise of Regional Authority: a comparative study of 42 democracies (1950-2006). London: Routledge.

Hug, Simon (2001) Altering Party Systems - Strategic Behavior & the Emergence of New Political Parties in Western Democracies. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Jackman, Robert W. (1987) ‘Political Institutions and Voter Turnout in the Industrial Democracies’. American Political Science Review, 81(2): 405-424.

Katz, Richard S., Hans Keman, Ruud Koole, Peter Mair, Edward. C. Page and Ingrid van Biezen, (eds) (1993-2010). Political Data Yearbook: 1993-2010.

Katz, Richard S., and Peter Mair (1995) ‘Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy. The Emergence of the Cartel Party’, Party Politics, 1(1): 5-28.

Katz, Richard S., and Peter Mair (2009) “The Cartel Party Thesis: A Restatementâ€, Perspectives on Politics, 7(4): 753-766.

Kestilä, Elina and Peter Söderlund (2007) ‘Subnational political opportunity structures and the success of the radical right: Evidence from the March 2004 regional elections in France’, European Journal of Political Research, 46(6): 773-796.

King, Gary (1998) Unifying Political Methodology.The Likelihood Theory of Statistical Inference. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Knutsen, Oddbjørn (2011) ‘Western Europe: Parties, voters and elections’, URL (consulted 17 November 2011):

Lijphart, Arend (1994) Electoral Systems and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lipset, Seymour M., and Stein Rokkan (1967) ‘Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: an Introduction’, in Seymour. M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan (eds), Party Systems and Voter Alignments. New York & London: Free Press, pp. 1-64.

Long, J. Scott (1997) Regression Models for Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Loosemore, John, and Victor. J. Hanby (1971) ‘The Theoretical Limits of Maximum Distortion: Some Analytic Expressions for Electoral Systems’, British Journal of Political Science, 1(4): 467-477.

Lucardie, Paul (2000) ‘Prophets, Purifiers and Prolocutors’, Party Politics, 6(2): 175-185.

Lundell, Krister and Lauri Karvonen (2011) A Comparative Data Set on Political Institutions. Ã…bo: Ã…bo Akademi University.

Mackie, Thomas T. and Richard Rose (1991) The International Almanac of Electoral History. Third Edition. London: Macmillan.

Mackie, Thomas T. and Richard Rose (1997) A Decade of Election Results: Updating the International Almanac. Glasgow. Centre for the Study of Public Policy, University of Strathclyde.

Mair, Peter (1999) ‘New Political Parties in Established Party Systems: How Successful Are They?’ in Erik Beukel, Kurt K. Klausen and Poul E. Mouritzen (eds) Elites, Parties and Democracy. Odense: Odense University Press, pp. 207-224.

Meguid, Bonnie M. (2008) Party Competition between Unequals. Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mudde, Cas (2007) Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mudde, Cas (2010) ‘The Populist Radical Right: A Pathological Normalcy’, West European Politics, 33(6): 1167-1186.

Müller-Rommel, Ferdinand (1998) ‘Explaining the Electoral Success of Green Parties: A Cross-National Analysis’, Environmental Politics, 7(4): 145-154.

Nohlen, Dieter and Philip Stöver (eds) (2010) Elections in Europe: A Data Handbook. Baden-Baden: Nomos.

O’Malley, Eoin (2008) ‘Turn Out to Turf Out?: Effects of Changes in Election Participation Rates on Election Outcomes’, The Open Political Science Journal, 1(1): 31-37.

OECD (2010a) ‘OECD Employment and Labour Market Statistics’, URL (consulted 14 November 2011):

OECD (2010b) OECD Factbook 2010: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics. OECD Publishing.

OECD (2011) ‘Employment and Labour Markets: Key Tables from OECD’, URL (consulted 16 November 2011):

Parties and Elections in Europe (2011), URL (consulted November-December 2011):

Pedersen, Mogens N. (1979) ‘The Dynamics of European Party Systems: Changing Patterns of Electoral Volatility’, European Journal of Political Research, 7(1): 1-26.

Peng, Chao-Ying J., Kuk. L. Lee and Ingersoll, Gary M. (2002) ‘An Introduction to Logistic Regression Analysis and Reporting’, Journal of Educational Research, 96(1): 3-14.

Poguntke, Thomas (1996) ‘Anti-party sentiment - Conceptual thoughts and empirical evidence: Explorations into a minefield’, European Journal of Political Research, 29(3): 319-344.

Rae, Douglas W. (1967) The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Reif, Karlheinz and Hermann Schmitt (1980) ‘Nine Second-Order National Elections - A Conceptual Framework for the Analysis of European Election Results’, European Journal of Political Research, 8(1): 3-44.

Ruiz-Rufino, Rubén (2007) ‘Aggregated threshold functions or how to measure the performance of an electoral system’, Electoral Studies, 26(2): 492-502.

Ruiz-Rufino, Rubén (2011) ‘Characterising Electoral Systems: An Empirical Application of Aggregated Threshold Functions’, West European Politics, 34(2): 256-281.

Rydgren, Jens (2003) The Populist Challenge: Political Protest and Ethno-Nationalist Mobilization in France. New York: Berghahn Books.

Schakel, Arjan H. (2008) ‘Validation of the Regional Authority Index’, Regional & Federal Studies, 18(2-3): 143-166.

Selb, Peter and Sandrine Pituctin, (2010) ‘Methodological Issues in the Study of New Parties’ Entry and Electoral Success’, Party Politics, 16(2): 147-170.

Strøm, Kaare (1990) ‘A Behavioral Theory of Competitive Political Parties’, American Journal of Political Science, 34(2): 565-598.

Taagepera, Rein (2002) ‘Nationwide threshold of representation’, Electoral Studies, 21(3): 383-401.

Taagepera, Rein, and Matthew S. Shugart (1989) Seats & Votes. The Effects & Determinants of Electoral Systems. New Haven & London: Yale University Press.

Tabachnick, Barbara G. and Linda S. Fidell, (2006) Using Multivariate Statistics. Fifth edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Tavits, Margit (2006) ‘Party System Change. Testing a Model of New Party Entry’, Party Politics, 12(1): 99-119.

van der Eijk, Cees, Mark Franklin and Michael Marsh (1996) ‘What Voters Teach Us About Europe-Wide Elections: What Europe-Wide Elections Teach Us About Voters’, Electoral Studies, 15(2): 149-166.

Ware, Alan (1996) Political Parties and Party Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Willey, Joseph (1998) ‘Institutional Arrangements and the Success of New Parties in Old Democracies’, Political Studies, 46(3): 651-668.

World Bank (2011) ‘World Development Indicators’, URL (consulted 16 November 2011):