The Impact of Cartel Strategies in France, Greece, Denmark and Ireland

Authors: Gemma Loomes | Published in: working paper series on the legal regulation of political parties, no. 13, November. | Date of publication: 2011


This paper aims to explore the relationship between engagement in cartel strategies and the fate of established parties in Europe. The paper explores four dimensions of „institutional? or cartel strategies: electoral laws; the electoral system; televisions advertising and state subsidies, and analyses the extent to which high or low levels of engagement in these strategies impacts upon the electoral and governmental success of „established? political parties across Europe during the post-war period.
Based on four country case studies where the highest (France and Greece) and lowest (Denmark and Ireland) levels of strategies are demonstrated, the paper hypothesises that, in line with the cartel thesis, established parties in France and Greece should enjoy the greatest levels of success, whereas established parties should be weaker in Ireland and Denmark. The findings of the study are mixed; in Greece, there is clear evidence of established parties? enduring success, whereas in France, evidence is weaker. In Denmark, the weakness of engagement in cartel strategies does not appear to have substantially undermined the strength of the established parties, whereas in Ireland, the post-1989 party system has seen the growth in support for, and emergence of, smaller parties, destabilising the party system. The paper concludes that although there does appear to be a relationship between cartel strategies and established parties? success, the use of cartel strategies must be considered alongside the strategic behaviours of parties in relation to other parties and the electorate, to understand the relationship between party law and electoral success.

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