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Allan Sikk, "Newness as a winning formula for new political parties," Party Politics 18 (July, 2012), 465-486. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
Most studies on new parties in Western Europe have had the social cleavage-based model of party system development (Lipset and Rokkan, 1967) as an implicit or explicit cornerstone. It has been commonly assumed or concluded that the demand for new parties is related to social heterogeneity, social or value change in a country, or the rise of new issues inadequately represented by established parties (see Harmel and Robertson, 1985; Hauss and Rayside, 1978; Hug, 1996, 2001; Kitschelt, 1988, 1995;Mu¨ller-Rommel, 2002). Ferdinand Mu¨ller-Rommel's review of Hug (2001) underscores the point: 'we know that new parties emerge primarily because old parties have failed to absorb new issues into their agendas and programmes' (Mu¨ller-Rommel, 2002: 741). The idea that new parties appear when existing parties become too distant from substantial segments of voters in terms of policy also underlies spatial approaches to political competition (Laver, 2005: 280). Other studies on new political parties either have not explicitly assessed the question of issues or cleavages (Tavits, 2006; Willey, 1998) or have noted the more general disappointment with incumbents as a factor behind new party emergence (Krouwel and Bosch, 2004; Tavits, 2007). In one of the major volumes on new political parties, Simon Hug (2001) takes their emergence to be a sign that the old parties have failed to incorporate new issues or assimilate new cleavages. He even argues that new parties would never appear if the old parties were fully knowledgeable of the popularity of the newcomer or aware of the newissues, as itwould always be rational to incorporate the issues the new parties stand for (2001: 50).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Lucardie's typology of new political parties
Table 2. Extended typology of new parties
Table 3. What do you think is the most important problem in Estonia? (%)
Table 4. What do you think is the most important problem in Latvia? (%)
Table 5. What do you think are the important problems in Lithuania? (%)
Figure 1. Policy positions of Estonian parties: major social issues
Figure 2. Policy positions of Latvian parties: major social issues
Figure 3. Policy positions of Lithuanian parties: major social issues
Figure 4. Estonian party positions: two main factors
Figure 5. Latvian party positions: two main factors
Figure 6. Lithuanian party positions: two main factors
Table 6. Estonia: factors of issue positions in expert surveys
Table 7. Latvia: rotated component matrix
Table 8. Lithuania: rotated component matrix

Last Paragraph:
While stressing the importance of non-programmatic factors behind the development of new parties, this article does not intend to argue that all significant new parties fall into the category of newness. During the last decade, new parties of other types have achieved success from all corners of the political spectrum in postcommunist countries: the Greens (in the Czech Republic and Estonia), radical right parties (Greater Romania Party, Ataka [Bulgaria], Jobbik [Hungary], League of Polish Families), populist left (Self-Defence in Poland) etc. What this article does call for is a pluralist approach; while cleavages and politicization of issues go a long way in explaining political competition, they are not able to explain all major developments. Old parties can incorporate new issues, and if they seriously underestimate new demands, new parties may take over (Hug, 1996, 2001). However, it is important to stress that embracing new issues can be difficult, because of legacies, party images, leaders' and voters' preferences, etc. In case the incumbents themselves are the issue, its incorporation becomes virtually impossible. Ridiculing the new party's arguments remains the only option for existing parties - and a poor one if the perceived levels of corruption and administrative inefficiency are high and the incumbents have used up their credit of trust.

Last updated August 2012