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Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date:
August 2024
Print publication year:
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Creative Commons:
Creative Common License - CC Creative Common License - BY Creative Common License - NC
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC 4.0

Book description

Beyond Social Democracy examines the electoral decline of social democratic parties and how distinctive strategic moves might enable them to salvage different segments of their former electoral coalitions. Social democratic decline, however, does not imply the demise of basic tenets of the parties' programmatic appeals. Under the impact of novel twenty-first-century political-economic challenges, these concerns are also invoked and repackaged with new ideas by novel left parties. Empirically, voter movements show that social democratic parties incur net losses mostly to these other leftist parties, while sustaining a balanced, but voluminous exchange with center-right parties. Contrary to commonly held preconceptions, there is little net loss to the new extreme Right. These findings will be pertinent to anyone interested in understanding or devising party strategies in twenty-first-century democracies. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘Beyond Social Democracy will be the reference for anyone studying social democracy and party system change in established democracies in the coming years. The introduction sets the stage with a brilliant theory of the temporalities of the transformation of the left; the different empirical chapters make use of different types of data and estimation strategies to provide evidence of the strategic dilemma that social democratic parties are in; and the result is an edited volume that is exceptionally coherent, theoretically ground-breaking and empirically extremely well conducted.’

Ruth Dassonneville - Canada Research Chair in Electoral Democracy, Université de Montréal

‘In this richly-documented volume, leading scholars of electoral politics provide a forensic account of declining support for social democratic parties and an incisive analysis of the strategic dilemmas facing those parties today. This book will be an indispensable reference, not only for scholars interested in the fate of social democracy, but for everyone concerned about the state of contemporary electoral politics.’

Peter A. Hall - Krupp Foundation Professor of European Studies, Harvard University

‘This exceptional collection brings together the most theoretically and empirical advanced research to date on the causes and consequences of the electoral decline of social democratic parties. Yet, it also does more than that. Reaching beyond political science to the real world, Silja Häusermann, Herbert Kitschelt and their team identify the main strategic choices facing parties in the ‘left field’, and investigate when and how progressive parties can succeed in today’s fragmented electoral arena. As a result, this book will not only be essential reading for scholars of parties and elections but will also be a vital handbook for political entrepreneurs and activists in centre left politics across the world.’

Simon Hix - Stein Rokkan Chair in Comparative Politics, European University Institute


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