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Crisis of democracy? Party politics and representation in times of austerity

English title Crisis of democracy? Party politics and representation in times of austerity
Applicant Häusermann Silja
Number 153140
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Politikwissenschaft Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.09.2014 - 31.01.2018
Approved amount 176'717.00
Show all

Keywords (4)

European party systems; Economic crisis; Representation; Party competition

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Dieses Forschungsprojekt befasst sich mit den Strategien politischer Parteien in Europa während der jüngsten Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise. Nach dem Konkurs von Lehman Brothers im September 2008 entwickelte sich die Krise rasch zu einer globalen Rezession, und insbesondere einige europäische Ländern hatten mit einer rasch wachsenden massiven Staatsverschuldung zu kämpfen. Die mit den Rettungspaketen einhergehenden Austeritätsmassnahmen verkleinerten in vielen Ländern den wirtschaftspolitischen Handlungsspielraum der Regierungen und es ist mittlerweile umstritten, wie viel Eigenständigkeit in der Wirtschaftspolitik den Regierungen, vor allem in den Ländern, die Kredite zurückzahlen müssen, noch bleibt. Kurz, während die Eurokrise zu einer verstärkten wirtschaftspolitischen Kooperation innerhalb der Eurozone geführt hat, stellt sich immer mehr die Frage, inwiefern die Parteien ihrer Wählerschaft noch sinnvolle wirtschaftspolitische Alternativen anbieten können
Lay summary
Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Der erste Teil des Forschungsprojektes untersucht die Wirtschaftspolitik europäischer Parteien während der Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise und geht der Frage nach, inwiefern es zu einer Konvergenz wirtschaftspolitischer Positionen gekommen ist. Der zweite Teil fokussiert auf die Präferenzen der Wählerinnen und Wähler. In einem dritten Teil werden die "Makro"- Perspektive der Parteien und die "Mikro"- Perspektive der Wählerschaft verbunden, und es wird untersucht, ob, bzw. zu welchem Grad die Positionen der Parteien die Wählerpräferenzen abbilden. Dabei werden sowohl inhaltliche Positionen wie auch die Salienz der Wirtschaftspolitik betrachtet.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext

Der wissenschaftliche Beitrag des Projekts liegt vor allem in der Kombination verschiedener sich zum Teil widersprechender Theorien zum Parteienwettbewerb und den Möglichkeiten der repräsentativen Demokratie im Kontext der ökonomischen Globalisierung. Indem es die Qualität der repräsentativen Demokratie in wirtschaftlichen Krisenzeiten untersucht, leistet das Projekt ausserdem einen Beitrag zur aktuellen öffentlichen Debatte.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 13.03.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Errors have been made, others will be blamed: Issue engagement and blame shifting in prime minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe
TRABER DENISE, SCHOONVELDE MARTIJN, SCHUMACHER GIJS (2019), Errors have been made, others will be blamed: Issue engagement and blame shifting in prime minister speeches during the economic crisis in Europe, in European Journal of Political Research, 59(1), 45-67.
Die Salienz von Sachthemen im internationalen Vergleich: Zurück zu „It’s the economy, stupid“ während der Krise?
Giger Nathalie Traber Denise (2016), Die Salienz von Sachthemen im internationalen Vergleich: Zurück zu „It’s the economy, stupid“ während der Krise?, in Schoen Harald Wessels Bernhard (ed.), Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 401-419.
How economic crises affect political representation: declining party‒voter congruence in times of constrained government
Traber Denise Giger Nathalie Häusermann Silja, How economic crises affect political representation: declining party‒voter congruence in times of constrained government, in West European Politics, Forthcoming(Published ), 1-25.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Martijn Schoonvelde, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Horizon 2020, EUENGAGE) Netherlands (Europe)
- Publication
Gijs Schumacher, University of Amsterdam (Horizon 2020, EUENGAGE) Netherlands (Europe)
- Publication
Nathalie Giger, Universität Genf Switzerland (Europe)
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
113rd American Political Science Association Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Polarization or convergence? How the economy shapes party policy positions 31.08.2017 San Francisco, United States of America Traber Denise;
Midwest Political Science Association 75th Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Blame avoidance in leader speeches during the economic crisis in Europe 06.04.2017 Chicago, United States of America Traber Denise;
Publikationsseminar, Institut für Politikwissenschaft Individual talk Blame avoidance in leader speeches during the economic crisis in Europe 31.03.2017 Zürich, Switzerland Traber Denise; Häusermann Silja;
6th Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Blame avoidance? Issue attention in leader speeches during the economic crisis in Europe 23.06.2016 Brüssel, Belgium Traber Denise;
Amsterdam Text Analysis Conference Talk given at a conference Blame avoidance? Issue attention in leader speeches during the economic crisis in Europe 21.06.2016 Amsterdam, Netherlands Traber Denise;
23rd International Conference of Europeanists Talk given at a conference How Economic crisis affects political representation: Declining party-voter congruence in times of austerity 14.04.2016 Philadelphia, United States of America Traber Denise;
111nd American Political Science Association Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference How the economic crisis turns into a political crisis: declining party-voter congruence in times of austerity 03.08.2015 San Francisco, United States of America Traber Denise; Häusermann Silja;
22nd International Conference of Europeanists Talk given at a conference Issue representation in times of austerity 08.07.2015 Paris, France Traber Denise; Häusermann Silja;
European Political Science Association 5th Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Issue representation in times of austerity 25.06.2015 Wien, Austria Traber Denise;
Midwest Political Science Association 73rd Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Issue representation in times of austerity 16.04.2015 Chicago, United States of America Traber Denise;
6eme Congres des associations francophones de Science Politique Talk given at a conference Party strategies in the context of the financial and economic crisis 05.02.2015 Lausanne, Switzerland Traber Denise;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
111nd American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Einzelnes Panel: "Representation in times of austerity" 03.08.2015 San Francisco, United States of America
22nd International Conference of Europeanists, Einzelnes Panel: “Crisis of democracy? Party politics and representation in times of austerity“ 08.07.2015 Paris, France

Awards

Title Year
The Gordon Smith and Vincent Wright Memorial Prizes 2018

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
146104 Years of Turmoil: The Political Consequences of the Financial and Economic Crisis in Europe 01.09.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The proposed research project analyses the European parties’ policy strategies during the recent economic crisis. After 2008 the crisis has quickly spread from the United States to Europe, causing public debt to rise to unsustainable levels in many countries. With a number of European countries now repaying their bail-out loans, others taking the risk of being affected by the continuing recession and slow growth of the most severely hit countries, it is not at all clear what leeway national European parties still have in choosing macroeconomic policy. In other words, the current crisis, which triggered an unprecedented integration of the eurozone, puts into question whether political parties are still able to provide voters with meaningful democratic choices. At the same time, there is a debate in the literature whether with economic globalization parties will converge and function as “cartels”, no longer interested in representing their voters demands (Katz and Mair 2005). According to this argument, parties “externalise” decisions in macroeconomic policy. The counter-argument offered by “realignment” theory posits that to the contrary parties are still responsive to their voters but adapt to socio-structural changes in the electorate and preference shifts. This research project will first investigate whether we find convergence or polarisation of the parties’ policy offerings with regard to macroeconomic policy, and second analyse the parties’ responsiveness to their voters’ demands. The existing literature on party congruence tends to focus on a “macro” argument, that is, to study party policy without taking voters into account. The research on party-voter linkages, on the other hand, looks more deeply into the micro-foundations of party policy, but tends to neglect the macroeconomic context. The proposed research project will combine both approaches in order to draw conclusions about the state of European representative democracies in times of economic crisis. The quasi-experimental setting of the economic crisis offers a unique opportunity to study the cartel party argument. It can be considered a “test case” for the question whether parties can still fulfil their representative function, whether they still offer a meaningful choice to their voters, or if we observe - as argued by cartel party theory - a hollowing of representative democracy. More specifically, we propose to study two aspects of parties’ policy strategies: the issues they emphasise and their macroeconomic policy positions shortly before and during the crisis. Thereby, we argue that parties are constrained in their policy choices not only by the impact of the crisis but also by their status. The government parties face more restrictions than opposition parties. The second step of the proposed research project entails studying voters’ issue priorities and their preferences with regard to the role of the state in the economy. The use of different datasets from surveys before and during the economic crisis will allow us in a third step to study the linkage between voter preferences and parties’ policy offerings, as well as possible changes in this linkage in times of austerity.The research draws on a variety of different data sources from 25 European countries in the time period between 2005 and 2012.
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