Research

Latin American Party Systems and Political Protest

Political representation is at the center of the current projects in the Research Area. The differences in the quality of representation in Latin America are enormous, and we seek to identify the historical and contemporary determinants of these differences. Our research shows that the legacy of historical polarization along ideological lines, as well as the strategies of contemporary political parties play central roles with respect to the politicization of social inequalities and grievances. We also focus on the consequences of good or bad representation. Where parties mirror the preferences of their voters, left-wing populist leaders will find it difficult to rally support, and most grievances will be channeled into the electoral arena. Where the traditional parties have proven unresponsive to their voters, on the other hand, anti-establishment mobilization finds fertile ground, and political conflict is more likely to be expressed in the protest arena.

The Transformation of West European Party Systems

The political space in Western Europe has been transformed by the advent of a new cultural conflict. This conflict is, at heart, one about different conceptions of community, and is the result of two transformations: The emergence of the New Left after 1968 and the division of the right into a traditional and a New Right component. While rooted in social structure, i.e., in class location, education, and gender, structural change has by no means translated mechanically into politics. Rather, the strategies of political actors are central in determining the strength of the new cultural conflict and the degree to which the populist right has benefitted from it. The role of European integration in different party systems and in the discourse of right-wing populist parties also varies. My research in this area is also concerned with the consequences of the polarization of party systems on the evolving quality of representation since the 1970s.