Old versus New Politics: The Political Spaces in Southern Europe in Times of Crises

Author(s): Swen Hutter, Hanspeter Kriesi, and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: The article focuses on the party political spaces in four Southern European countries (i.e. Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain) since the onset of the Euro crisis. To understand the emerging conflict structures, it argues for the need to consider that these countries simultaneously face an economic crisis and a political crisis and that both crises have strong domestic and European components. Moreover, the major driving forces of change tend to be social movements and political parties that forcefully combine opposition to austerity and to “old politics.” This leads to a complex conflict structure shaped by struggles over austerity and political renewal. In this structure, divides over economic and political issues are closely aligned with each other. While this pattern emerges everywhere, there are distinct country differences. Empirically, the article relies on original data from a large-scale content analysis of national election campaigns in the four countries in the period 2011 to 2015.

In Party Politics || Download preprint version

Challenging business as usual? The rise of new parties in Spain in times of crisis

Author(s): Guillem Vidal

Abstract: The two-party system in Spain collapsed in the aftermath of the Great Recession with the irruption of two new parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos. How are we to understand the sudden emergence of these new formations? Using 2015 and 2016 post-electoral survey data to map the ideological space and model voting behaviour, it is shown that economic voting is only part of the story. This article contends that the transformations in the Spanish party system are best understood through the prism of the crisis of representation that unfolded alongside the severe economic crisis. It is dissatisfaction with the political system that drives the vote for both new parties. The results also show that a unidimensional ideological structure and a generational divide cut across these critical attitudes. The young and politically dissatisfied are more likely to vote for new parties, each on different sides of the ideological spectrum.

In West European Politics || Download preprint version

Political Mistrust in Southern Europe since the Great Recession

Author(s): Diego Muro and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: The political effects of the Great Recession on southern Europe were substantial. The rapid economic deterioration of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain from 2008 onwards was accompanied by an increase in citizens’ dissatisfaction towards national political institutions. The sources of political mistrust in the southern periphery were of a political and economic nature. Using quantitative data from EU member states from 2000 to 2015, this paper evaluates the suitability of competing theories in explaining this shift in political attitudes in southern European countries. It first hypothesizes that political mistrust is explained by citizens’ rationalist evaluations of changing macroeconomic performance. It also hypothesizes that political mistrust changes according to institutional performance. The paper argues that economic crises act as an external shock that places politics, politicians and institutions in the spotlight as a result of citizens’ deteriorating performance of the economy. The findings suggest that unemployment, public debt and political corruption are key variables in understanding short-term changes in political mistrust.

In Mediterranean Politics || Download PDF

Working Papers

Dualism, Welfare State, and the Populist Radical Right

Author(s): Jorge Galindo and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: This article studies the labour market dimension behind the vote for the Populist Radical Right (PRR). We argue that the exclusionary nature of PRR parties insofar they appeal to protecting the interests of ‘the people’ defined as a homogenous group delimited by national, ethnic and cultural boundaries, should attract voters who are ‘part of the system’ and have ‘something to lose’. Using comparative survey data (ESS) to model PRR vote across Europe, our findings suggest that labour market insiders are overrepresented in PRR parties, particularly in countries with Bismarckian welfare states, and especially amongst those who belong to socioeconomic groups with higher risks of labour market vulnerability.


Does the Prospect of International Recognition Matter for Support for Secession: A Survey Experiment in Catalonia and Scotland

Author(s): Diego Muro, Guillem Vidal, and Martijn Vlaskampf

Abstract: How much do the prospects of international recognition of a possible new state affect the domestic support for secession? To answer this question, we conducted a web-based survey experiment in Catalonia and Scotland. Respondents were presented with different scenarios regarding the international recognition of a hypothetical independent state and were subsequently asked whether they would support a unilateral declaration of independence. The results showed that the prospects of international recognition did influence the degree of support for a unilateral declaration of independence in both cases. This effect was, however, moderated by the degree of nationalism and the motivations for independence. Respondents with more outspoken nationalist sentiments were only marginally influenced by these scenarios or treatments. Moreover, those participants whose preferences toward secession were driven by ethno-cultural motivations were less influenced by international factors than those who wanted an independent state for economic or political reasons.

Under Review

What the fact? An experiment on the political persuasiveness of experts’ advices

Author(s): Berta Barbet, Antoni-Italo De Moragas, and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: One of the major concerns about the democratic system is how citizens get and assess the quality of the arguments they receive form experts and other political figures in order to decide their vote. These concerns have been aggravated during the Brexit Referendum and the US 2016 Presidential Elections. We conduct a survey experiment to test whether adding empirical, emotional and normative cues to support an argument increases its persuasiveness.

First Results || Project details (in Spanish)

Book Chapters

Paths of change: A comparative analysis of the political consequences of Europe’s multiple crises

Author(s): Swen Hutter, Argyrios Altiparmakis, and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: In this chapter, we assess the impact of the multiple crises on European party competition in a comparative perspective. That is, we are interested in what kind of similar or diverging trends have occurred across the three macro regions of Europe (i.e. North-Western Europe, Southern Europe and Central-and Eastern Europe). The volume pays close attention to the impact of the economic and political crises which many of the countries under scrutiny experienced after the onset of the Great Recession. Our quantitative study on the big picture of the partisan offer (measured with our original media data) takes a bird’s-eye view to focus on the commonalities and dissimilarities in the content and structuration of party competition across regions.

Working Paper for an edited volume by Hanspeter Kriesi and Swen Hutter

Out with the Old: The Transformation of Spanish Politics in the Great Recession

Author(s): Guillem Vidal and Irene Sánchez-Vitores

Abstract: To paraphrase Polanyi (1944), there are certain critical periods during which time expands. Studying these exceptional periods opens an opportunity to shed light on the transforming dynamics of political phenomena. Since the outbreak of the Great Recession in 2008, time has expanded in Spanish politics. What used to be an imperfect bi-partisan system with a stable bipolar structure of conflict has now become a fluid landscape with new actors and issues that have rocked the ‘old’ political system. The combination of political and economic crises at the national and European levels have produced a scenario in which a largely stable political system has been profoundly questioned. In this chapter, we zoom in on the dynamics of transformation of Spanish politics before and after the crises struck. To do so we analyse in depth two elections before (2004, 2008) and two elections after the beginning of the crisis (2011, 2015).

Working Paper for an edited volume by Hanspeter Kriesi and Swen Hutter

From Boom to Bust: A Comparative Analysis of Greece and Spain

Author(s): Bjorn Bremer and Guillem Vidal

Abstract: The deep economic crisis caused by the financial crisis and the austerity policies imposed thereafter have shaken the foundations of the Greek and Spanish political systems. Massive protests and demonstrations preceded the emergence of new parties that put an end to their stable bipartisan system. However, despite some general similarities, the economic and political consequences of the crisis have been substantially different in both countries. In Greece, a radical left party is in government and the economic situation does not appear to be improving. In Spain, there are some signs of recovery and the new challenger parties are different political animals. How can we explain such similarities and differences in the consequences of living under austerity in Greece and Spain? By comparing the experience of both countries, the chapter contends that the economic crisis in Southern Europe did not only lead to a political crisis, but that prior political developments also played a role in bringing about the economic crisis in the first place. In particular, irresponsible governments in Spain and Greece failed to regulate the pre-crisis boom effectively. Driven by incentives that derived from the ill-conceived institutional structure of the EU, they created a socio-economic environment, in which the economic crisis could only have the disruptive political consequences that we have witnessed. Consequently, the substantial differences in the restructuring of the party systems of both countries must be understood through a combination of pre-existing domestic conflicts and new conflicts that were brought about by the exceptional economic and political situation.

Working Paper for an edited volume by Aimee Placas and Doxis Doxiadis || Download PDF

Reports & Others

MIND THE GAPS - The Political Consequences of the Great Recession in Europe

Author(s): Diego Muro and Guillem Vidal

Summary: The financial crisis that started in 2008 had an unanticipated magnitude. What at first glance appeared as a manageable frailty of the financial sector rapidly derived into a Great Recession with on-going continuity into 2014. The enlargement of a gap or, rather, three distinct gaps within Europe constitutes the resulting political consequences of this complex multi-dimensional economic crisis, namely gaps between: citizens and politicians; rich and poor countries; and citizens themselves.

In CIDOB - Barcelona Center for International Affairs || Download PDF

Los partidos anti-elitistas tras la recesión de 2008

Author(s): Enrique Hernández y Guillem Vidal

Resumen: Durante las últimas décadas, y sobre todo desde 2008, Europa ha experimentado un cambio político fruto de la caída del voto a los partidos tradicionales en favor de nuevos partidos caracterizados como populistas, anti-elitistas o de protesta. Sin embargo, no todos los partidos anti-elitistas son equiparables, a grandes rasgos se puede distinguir entre anti-elitismo de derechas generalmente combinado con discursos nacionalistas y, a veces, xenófobo, y anti-elitismo de izquierdas, que combina el anti-elitismo con críticas a la situación económica. Por norma general, el anti-elitismo de izquierdas ha subido, sobre todo, en los países del sur y la periferia europea, mientras en el norte y el centro es dónde más han subido los partidos anti-elitistas de derecha. El fenómeno tiene raíces profundas ligadas con los cambios producidos por la globalización, la desigualdad y la pérdida de soberanía de los estados en materia económica y de política migratoria. Pero también hay explicaciones más recientes relacionadas con la insatisfacción de los ciudadanos con la gestión de los gobiernos de la crisis económica que empezó en 2008.

En Zoom Político, Fundación Alternativas (in Spanish) || Descargar PDF

El mercado de la academia: La producción de conocimiento en la universidad actual

Author(s): Guillem Vidal y Albert Jornet

Resumen: La sección de “Materiales” del presente número —y cuya continuación podrá leerse en el próximo— surge de una constatación, una interrogación y la esperanza de que de ello resulte un diagnóstico. La primera no es otra que el hecho de observar que, junto a los cambios en la estructura y las directrices de nuestras universidades, en los últimos años también podemos señalar ciertos giros y tendencias en las formas de producción, distribución y consumo del conocimiento que emerge de su labor investigadora. La interrogación: ¿en qué medida puede esto afectar al propio estatus y la función del saber en nuestra sociedad? Ya les avisamos que el diagnóstico que a ore en consecuencia no podrá ser demasiado alentador, aunque sí, creemos, necesario y urgente. Con él, pretendemos añadir nuestra reflexión y trabajo a las voces que recientemente han venido alertando sobre las peligrosas derivas que la universidad pública española y europea está tomando.

En Puentes de Crítica Literaria || Descargar PDF