Issue (25, 2010)
Thematic Core: Cleavages in the Party System
Vote Selection in the ‘Crossfire’:
The Conflicting Effects of Social Characteristics
This paper seeks to advance our understanding of ‘cross-pressures’, a concept recognised in Lipset’s earliest studies of American voting, by identifying the consequences of cross-pressures on electoral turnout in the case of Greece. Although we confirm previous studies of other cases which suggest that cross-pressures are of little, if any consequence, for political participation, we then argue that the use of alternative measures of ‘cross-pressures’ might have well confirmed Lipset’s initial hypotheses. Based on the argument that it is the actual, as opposed to inferred exposure to cross-pressures that affect participation, this study suggests that the heterogeneity of one’s social networks would provide a better measure of potential political conflict and would also allow insight into potential processes of influence. Last, but not least, the paper argues that electoral abstention is not the only way in which people exposed to a variety of cues about political attitudes resolve the discomfort they experience; third-party vote may well be considered as a likely consequence of cross-cutting networks.
Between Alignment and Realignment:
Revisiting the Heritage of S.M. Lipset and St. Rokkan
on the occasion of the Religious Cleavage in Germany
The article aims at examining the religious cleavage in Germany four decades after the first publication of S.M. Lipset and St. Rokkan’s influential work Party Systems and Voter Alignments. The two main arguments found in the actual literature on ‘cleavages’ are the ‘dealignment’ and ‘realignment’ arguments. The former pinpoints the decay of cleavages over time while the latter observes their resurgence by adopting new attributes. In regard to Germany, it is indicated that the initially existing ‘confessional cleavage’ has been gradually overlapped by a ‘religious’ one. In other words, church attachment turns out to be a more secure factor of predicting voting behavior than confession. Nowadays, two conflicting phenomena seem to have a strong impact on religious cleavage: the increasing secularization on the one hand and the occasional politicization of certain public issues on the other hand that divide voters along the cleavage of values. In conclusion, the central role of religion in understanding voting behavior in contemporary Germany confirms the perpetuation of religious cleavage with new attributes.
A Study of the Divides of Voters and Candidates in the National and European Bipolar System: Convergences and Divergences
Eutyhia Teperoglou, Theodoros Hatzipantelis, Ioannis Andreadis
This article seeks to examine both the theoretical framework of cleavages that was formulated by Lipset & Rokkan and two other cleavages which derive from the self-placement on the Left-Right divide and the respective one of European versus anti - European orientation. The first divide is called the ‘national continuum’, while the second one is the ‘European continuum’. This article presents a case study of Greece and focuses on the elections of the electoral period of 2004-2007. The ‘social cleavage model’ of Lipset & Rokkan is analyzed first. The presentation of the theoretical framework goes one step further and aims at analyzing also the most recent research contributions on the scientific discussion about cleavages. Secondly, the aforementioned cleavages are examined from a twofold perspective: from the one of political elites and the one of voters. At the core of the analysis are the candidates of the national election of 2007 of the two major parties of New Democracy (ND) and the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and their electorate. In addition, results from the electorate of the smaller parties of the Greek national political arena are also presented. The study identifies the convergent and divergent points between candidates and voters. Both the ‘national’ and the ‘European continuum’ formulate interesting aspects of the political conflict. For the study of candidates, the results of the international research programme ‘Comparative Candidate Survey’ are elaborated, while for the voters’ perspective various data from pre- and post- electoral surveys are analyzed.
‘The People Forget What the Right Was Like’: Anti-Right Bias as a (Waning) Element of Greek Political Culture
Since the fall of the military dictatorship in Greece, the notion of the ‘Right’, as a shortcut used to denote politically conservative and economically liberal policies, has been given negative normative connotations. The reasons for this tendency can be traced historically in the post-civil-war political system. This led to the conversion of the typical Left/Right cleavage into what is often referred to as the distinction between the right and the ‘anti-right’. Although there are many studies focusing on the historical sources of this phenomenon and the role of parties in this process, its implications on public opinion and more generally on the formation of the Greek political culture during the last three decades have not been systematically analyzed. Thus, questions such as why New Democracy, which appears according to its manifestos’ coding as a relatively modest conservative party, is perceived by the electorate as the most right-wing party of Europe at least until the end of the 1980s remain unanswered. Focusing on this very aspect of the anti-right cleavage, we propose a model that enables the systematic exploration of an ‘anti-right bias’ and we show that this inclination is much less apparent among the youth and more particularly among voters who started voting after 1993. We conclude that the change in the physiognomy of the two major parties and especially PASOK during this period, as well as the normalization and routinization of the political system, have led to the partial at least transformation of the Greek Right from a by-product of a historical reality characterized by a lack of ideological legitimization, to a legitimized political ideology, analogous to the one represented by the party families of this ideological spectrum in Europe.
Changing Goals, Shifting Alliances: The Greek Communist Party and Inter-party Antagonism in the Post-Dictatorship Period
Nikos Marantzidis – Lambrini Rori
From 1974 to 2009, the Greek Communist Party had realized almost all possible alliances, that is, with almost all existing political parties. Unlike common interpretations regarding single-issue alliances or the alliances regarding one specific electoral cycle, this paper attempts to provide a comprehensive, synthetic interpretation of the Greek communists’ strategic alliances. Considering the party goals, as well as their change as a key variable for the interpretation of its alliance strategy, we examine the influence of a series of factors, both structural and contingent. In the first place, we demonstrate the limits of interpretations related to the sociology of voting, the history, the differentiation in terms of public policy and morality. We then study how the structure of political opportunities of the party system, the intra-party affairs and the situational determinants configure the party’s objectives. Being office-seeking and policy-seeking until 1991, the Communist Party becomes vote-seeking since then, due to several intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as the electoral decline, the internal divisions, the collapse of the USSR, public funding and its antagonistic relationship with the party known as Synaspismos (SYN): the Coalition of the Left, of Movements and Ecology. The change in the party goals resulted in a radical shift from the alliance strategy to the autonomous descent.
New Economic Sociology as a Reaction to ‘Economic Imperialism’:
The Notion of Embeddedness
Sokratis M. Koniordos
The attempts by some economists to make economics an imperial science by infiltrating in several areas in which sociology has been active and displacing it, has triggered the reactions of sociologists. In the context of such reactions one should perceive the treatment and analysis of homo economicus by sociology as an individualized undersocialised theoretical scheme, and thus inappropriate for the comprehensive understanding of the social interaction of real actors, of their function and behavior, as well as of their conceptualization in the economic process. As opposed to this representation of economic life, considered to lack realism, economic sociologists have juxtaposed the designation of economic actors as non-individualized, and above all as embedded in networks of continued and active social relations. In this way, a basis is provided which, because of its realist complexity, offers an enhanced potential to interpret economic action and its framework in which individuals interact. It is this sociological reaction that has set the ground for the containment of economic imperialism, on the one hand, and for claiming anew multifaceted economic action as social action that necessitates sociological analysis and interpretation, on the other. In this paper, two variants of economic imperialism are examined. Subsequently, the focus shifts on discussing the notion of social embeddedness, which is constitutive for the New Economic Sociology, by looking into the work of K. Polanyi, B. Barber and M. Granovetter.
After the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the IMF, the Commission and the ECB: Reforms under External Pressure
To avoid bankruptcy in May 2010, the Greek government entered an agreement with the IMF and the EU. In exchange for an unprecedented support lending of 110 billion Euros in three years, the government committed itself to implementing a wide-ranging program of fiscal consolidation and essentially liberal economic reforms. The program, recorded in a ‘memorandum of understanding’, arguably marks the end of the so-called post-dictatorship period (‘metapolitefsi’) during which a set of rules and practices subsumed under the term statism has been firmly established. The result has been high dependency on foreign borrowing, accumulated debts and worsening balance of payments indicating a heavy loss of competitiveness. As elementary public choice considerations warn, the now agreed program is loaded with uncertainties. It confronts strong domestic resistance arising from the populist tradition of the governing party, the ‘war of attrition’ of powerful interests and anti-liberal undercurrents in the broader public. Reform implementation suffers also under weak state institutions unable to develop reasonable compensation schemes. Economically seen, it is definitely not clear whether fiscal restraint is the right answer to heavy indebtedness which implies that a preferably ‘organized’ restructuring will be necessary- the sooner the better.