Simon Hug, "Studying the Electoral Success of New
Political Parties: A Methodological Note," Party
Politics, 6 (April 2000), 187-197.
New political parties of different types have attracted
increasing attention over the last few years. Scholars have
studied in detail green or left-libertarian parties (e.g.
Kitschelt, 1988; Muller-Rommel, 1993), new right-wing
parties (e.g. Ignazi, 1994; Kitschelt, 1995; Muller-Rommel,
1998), or regional and non-state-wide parties (De Winter,
1995; De Winter and Tursan, 1998). An important aspect of
most comparative studies is often the explanation for the
electoral success of newly formed parties. If scholars
employ countries as units of analysis, they classify them
according to whether a particular type of party has been
electorally successful or not (e.g. Harmel and Robertson,
1985; Kitschelt, 1988, 1995; Kalyvas, 1996). If the new
parties appear as units of analysis, scholars attempt to
explain variation in electoral success with a wide array of
factors (e.g. Muller-Rommel, 1993, 1998).
Figures and Tables:
While this example uses a particular research strategy,
namely focusing on new parties that have emerged, other
approaches also have to deal with this particular variant of
selection bias. Whether a researcher compares countries with
or without successful new parties, employs case studies or
focuses on parties that have emerged, problems of selection
bias are likely to appear. Instead of neglecting such
problems, this note suggests that it is often beneficial to
directly address the selection process that leads to the
formation of new parties. Often interesting and important
substantive results appear in such analyses, which would
otherwise remain undetected.