Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 17, Issue 1

Mette Anthonsen, Johannes Lindvall, and Ulrich Schmidt-Hansen, "Social democrats, unions and corporatism: Denmark and Sweden compared," Party Politics, 17 (January, 2011), 118-134. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
In many European countries, social democratic parties and trade unions are not as close as they once were (Allern et al., 2007; Piazza, 2001). This article is concerned with the effects of weakening party-union ties on policymaking. In many of the classic studies of corporatism - the institutionalized participation of large interest organizations in the formation and implementation of public policy (cf. Lehmbruch, 1977: 94) - it has been argued that the corporatist mode of policymaking depends on close cooperation between trade unions and social democratic parties (Lehmbruch, 1984: 74-8; Schmitter, 1981: 313-18; Williamson, 1989: 151). In contrast, in this article it is argued that strong party-union ties can be detrimental to corporatism. The reason is that if the unions are closely affiliated with the social democrats, and the social democrats are in power, unions in polarized political environments may be tempted to seek direct political influence instead of bargaining with employer organizations.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Direct, indirect and contingent models
Figure 2. Favourable mentions of social justice by party family type
Figure 3. Salience of welfare issues in party platforms by party type
Figure 4. Salience of education by party family type
Figure 5. Party gender quotas by party family type
Table 1. Direct effects: effects of women's presence in office and party characteristics on platform salience and party gender quotas
Table 2. Indirect effects: modelling the effects of party characteristics on women's share of the parliamentary delegation
Table 3. Conditional effects: interactions among women's presence and party characteristics
Figure 6. The mediating effect of women's organizations on women MPs on the salience of welfare state expansion in party programmes
Appendix A. countries, parties and elections in the study
Appendix B: Data Sources

Last Paragraph:
Women represent one group of new contenders in democratic politics. Other new contenders include identity-based groups such as racial and ethnic minorities, and groups formed around issue-based concerns, such as the environment. Examining the effect of women as a group in party politics is especially important because gender is so central to the political process and institutions. Yet the results of this research may be cautiously applied to new contenders more generally, and how they can best heighten the salience of issues. New contenders in party politics may most effectively gain leverage over party policy agendas and new party rules by not only increasing their numbers in office and among the party leadership, but also by organizing and mobilizing on the basis of their shared concerns. A strategy based on formal organization as a group within the party appears less to be in jeopardy of isolation, but rather a springboard from which new groups can press particular claims for representation in party politics.

Last updated December 2011