chapter  7
Party strategies in western Europe: party competition and electoral outcomes
Pages 14

The preceding chapters examined the extent to which estab lished par ties engaged in strat egies in the period 1950-2009, as well as the impact of these strat egies upon those par ties’ centrality in their respective national party sys tems. This final chapter brings together the results of the study and broadens out the ana lysis of the impact of strat egies to all 17 coun tries under con sidera tion. Strategies can explain, to a certain extent, the success of estab lished par ties across western Europe, but this chapter addresses a number of caveats to provide a more complete overview of the impact of strat egies on the fate of estab lished parties. This chapter begins with an overview of the extent to which data from all 17 coun tries sup ports the hypotheses gen er ated in Chapters 2 and 3, acknowledging that the impact of strat egies varies according to the arena in which par ties compete. Intervening regime and sys temic factors are im port ant con sidera tions, as the French, Danish and Swiss examples in par ticu lar showed that the semipresidential nature of the sys tem, the prevalence of minor ity gov ern ments and direct demo cracy, respectively, can shape party strat egies and mitigate their impact. The study has as sumed that the estab lished par ties influence their sys­ temic position, but this chapter assesses the chain of causality in greater depth, with a par ticu lar focus on the ‘newer’ western Euro pean demo cra cies. Finally, the chapter ex plores the relationship between elect oral change and party sys tem change to reflect further on the party­ centric per spect ive on party sys tem change advanced in Chapter 1.