The Social Base of Parties and Ideological Congruence

Robert Rohrschneider and Stephen Stephen

in The Strain of Representation

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652785
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744907 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

The Social Base of Parties and Ideological Congruence

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This chapter examines the relationship between the characteristics of party constituencies and congruence. There are two reasons to do this. First, party theorists have long argued that parties on the center-left have more elaborate mass party structures than those on the center-right. Thus, it is conceivable that the nature of constituencies, not mass party organizations themselves, drove the pattern that was reported in chapter 6. This is actually not the case as this chapter shows. Second, the chapter examines one implication of our argument about representational strain: we pay particular attention to the potential strain that mainstream parties with a larger social group basis may experience. The chapter clearly shows that a large class base (both for center-right and, especially center-left ones) actually increases the ideological distance between mainstream parties and their voters, not decreases it as the traditional partisan model of representation suggests.

Keywords: representation; congruence; mass organisation; social class; party family; Europe; Western Europe; Eastern Europe

Chapter.  7632 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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