Party-Interest Group Relationships in Contemporary Democracies: Character, Causes and Consequences (PAIRDEM)

A common view in scholarly literature and public debate is that the relationship between parties and interest groups shapes the nature of democratic governance. Still, party-group relationships have been largely overlooked by political scientists to date and taken for granted across different countries, institutional make-ups, types of party systems, and sectors. The proposed research project will advance the state of the art in this field by seeking to systematically examine the nature, the shaping factors and the consequences for policy-making of party-group relationships in long-established democracies across the world.

Illustration: Colourbox.com

About the project

The project will provide a truly comparative study of the varieties and impact of party-group relationships on a scale hitherto unparalleled within the social and political sciences. It will break new ground by examining party-group links from both sides rather than using either groups or parties as starting point. Aiming to renew both theory and methods within party/interest group research, we believe this new study will be of great value to the different kinds of scholars concerned with questions about the nature and effects of varying party-group relationships in democratic politics, and may also impact on those who run, belong to and report on the organizations involved.

The relationship between political parties and interest groups is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, and how to study it is open to debate. Accordingly, we will first look for a way to conceptualize party-group relationships that reduces the dimensions along which they can vary so that, after having mapped similarities and differences, we can examine the factors that shape them and their political impact. Empirically, the major goals of the project are to:

  • Map the character of contemporary party-interest group relationships, mainly as an organizational phenomenon
  • Identify the shaping factors of party-group relationships in this sense (at the country and party/group level)
  • Measure patterns of party-group influence and the impact of on public policy

In this way, we also hope to expose the broader role of party-group relationships in democratic governance. For more information on the conceptual issues, research questions and hypotheses of the project, please contact the Principal Investigator, Elin Haugsgjerd Allern.

Research Design

The project will be designed as a genuine comparative study across countries. With an eye on tractability and feasibility, we concentrate on the national/leadership level of politics. The units of analysis for are first, political parties and second, interest groups, but also the relationships as such (the dyads). Countries will be compared in terms of general patterns of party-group relationships. We look at the extra-parliamentary organization, but include parliamentary groups, too, since parties in some countries only have weak central organizations. In this way, we can also compare across ‘faces’ of parties, and touch more directly upon public decision-making as far as general patterns of influence is concerned. The project is divided into three main empirical modules: 1) an extensive study of all long-established democracies, 2) a detailed comparative study of parties and interest groups in 7-8 selected countries and 3) use of other (existing) data sets. The project includes a considerable data collection effort, including mapping of party statutes, a party survey, and an interest group survey, mapping of elite networks and perhaps also interviews with those involved in policy-making.

Project Organization and Funding

The project runs from Autumn 2014 to Autumn 2019 and is financed by the national funding scheme "FRIHUMSAM Young Research Talents" (The Research Council of Norway) together with the University of Oslo. A core research group of nine persons (see List of participants) with complementary general expertise and different geographical backgrounds all contribute to the development of the conceptualization, the more detailed research design, to the data analysis and to publications. The team members also serves as advisors for the data collection in various countries/areas, supplemented by a few country supervisors to be affiliated (see List of affiliated researchers). All of the team members bring extensive, but only partly overlapping research networks into the project. The project will be managed at the University of Oslo, by Elin Haugsgjerd Allern. Numerous research assistants are engaged by the project, in different countries. Moreover, a postdoctoral fellow was recruited to work with the project manager in Oslo after the project started.
 

Publications

Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017): «The Relationship Between Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions”, ch. 1 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Allern Elin H., Tim Bale, and Simon Otjes (2017a): “Mapping Party-Trade Union Relationships in Contemporary Democracies”, ch. 2 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Allern Elin H., Tim Bale, and Simon Otjes (2017b): “The Relationship between Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in Contemporary Democracies”, ch. 15 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Allern Elin H., Tim Bale, and Simon Otjes (2017c): “Variations in Party-Union Relationships: Explanations and Implications”, ch. 16 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Otjes, Simon and Anne Rasmussen (2017): The Legacy of Pillarization: Trade Union Confederations and Political Parties in the Netherlands, ch. 10 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bale, Tim and Paul Webb (2017): “No Place Else To Go: The Labour Party and the Trade Unions in the UK, ch. 13 in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Witko, Christopher (2017): Still So Happy Together? The Relationship between Labour Unions and the Democratic Party, ch.  14, in Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Allern Elin H. and Tània Verge (2017): “Still Connecting with Society? Political Parties’ Formal Links with Social Groups in the 21st century?”, ch. 5 in Poguntke, Thomas, Susan E. Scarrow and Paul D. Webb (eds): Organizing Representation: Political Parties, Participation, and Power. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Conference papers

Maiken Røed and Vibeke Wøien Hansen: Explaining participation bias in the European Commission's online consultations: Explaining Participation Bias in the European Commission's Online Consultations: The strive for policy gain without too much pain. Paper presented at the EPSA Annual Conference in Brussels, June 23-25, 2016, and at ECPR General Conference, Oslo, 6-9 September 2017.

Allern, Elin H., Tim Bale, Simon Otjes and Anne Rasmussen (2017): Institutionalized Access with Government: Does Corporatism Affect Trade Union-Party Links? Paper presented at EPSA Annual Conference, Milan, 21-24 June and ECPR General Conference, Oslo, 6-9 September 2017.

Allern, Elin H., Vibeke Wøien Hansen, Heike Klüver, David Marshall, Simon Otjes, Thomas Poguntke, Anne Rasmussen, Sabine Saurugger (2017): Conceptualizing and Measuring Party-Interest Group Relationships: How Parties? Relational Ties to Interest Groups Differ in Old Democracies. Paper presented at ECPR General Conference, Oslo, 6-9 September 2017

Allern, Elin H, Tim Bale, Simon Otjes, Vibeke Wøien Hansen and Maiken Røed (2016): Relationships between Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the 21st century: Evidence from 12 Mature Democracies Presentation. Paper presented at the EPSA Annual Conference in Brussels, June 23-25, 2016.

Elin Haugsgjerd Allern and Tània Verge (2015): Still Connecting with Society? A Cross-sectional Study of Political Parties’ Formal Links with Social Groups in the 21st Century. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of APSA, September 3-6, 2015, San Francisco.

Presentation of pilot study at the EPSA conference in Vienna, June 25-27, 2015: "Drifting Apart but not Divorced? Relationships between Centre-Left Parties and Trade Unions in Established Democracies", Elin Haugsgjerd Allern, Tim Bale and Simon Otjes

 

 

 

 

Tags: Party politics, Policy-making, Interest groups, Democracy, Comparative Politics
Published Aug. 28, 2014 10:58 AM - Last modified Dec. 6, 2017 10:30 AM