“Welfare Democracies and Party Politics”

New book co-edited by Hanna Schwander explains electoral dynamics amid changes in welfare capitalism.

As Europe's political landscape shifts radically, a new book co-edited by Hertie School Professor of Public Policy Hanna Schwander seeks to shed light on the political and economic turmoil of the last decades. “Welfare Democracies and Party Politics”, published in 2018 by Oxford University Press and edited by Schwander and colleagues Philip Manow of the University of Bremen and Bruno Palier of the Sciences Po, locates Europe's contemporary challenges within the longer economic and political trajectories of its “welfare democracies”.

The book analyses the structures of political competition and voter-party links to make sense of the political and economic turmoil of the last decades. It concludes that in each of four European welfare democracies (Nordic, Continental, Southern, and Anglo-Saxon), the political economy, party system, and structure of the political space are co-determined in a specific way. The different sets of policies and politics and the distinct patterns of alignment between core electoral groups and political parties in these four areas shape how European welfare democracies react to the current turmoil, according to the authors.

The volume outlines three phenomena. First, it identifies a homogenisation of European party systems, the emergence of a new combination of leftist socio-economic and rightist socio-cultural positions in many parties, and different electoral successes of the radical right in the north the radical left in the south. Second, it indicates a confluence of renewed welfare state support among parties and voters. Third, it demonstrates that the Europeanisation of political dynamics, combined with incompatible growth models, has created pronounced cleavages.

Order the book from Oxford University Press here.