The Party System

Peter Mair

in The Oxford Handbook of British Politics

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199230952
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 The Party System

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This article explores the nature and dynamic of the British party system and how it shapes up when viewed from a comparative perspective. It specifically examines the enduring strength of the British party system, and at what it shows about the character of the party system. It then investigates how one might conceive of party systems more generally, and how they might best be understood. It then returns to the British case and determines the factors that have helped to ensure the resilience of the party system. Finally, it analyzes the problems that are now beginning to face both the main parties and the system and evaluates the scope for party system change. The British party system is one of the oldest, strongest, and most stable of the party systems in Europe. In reality, it has become both vulnerable and brittle, such that even a relatively small shock could lead to a substantial change.

Keywords: British party system; Britain; resilience; party system change; Europe; comparative perspective

Article.  9132 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; UK Politics

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