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Political mobilization in the electoral and protest arenas have long been studied as separate phenomena, following their own, independent dynamic. Parties and protests are rarely examined within the same framework, although the protest engagement of political parties is often assumed to be one of the main driving forces of the wave of protest in southern European countries, those most exposed to the economic crisis. The chapter provides the first large-scale study of protests sponsored by political parties across Europe before and after the Great Recession. It relies on a novel protest event dataset, collected by semi-automated content analysis of news agencies. The data cover protests in thirty countries, from 2000 to 2015. The results show the ‘crowding out’ of political parties as the driving force of the protest wave in southern Europe. We find the highest share of party sponsored protest in eastern Europe, where unlike in north-western and southern Europe, right-wing and non-mainstream parties are also active in protest. In line with the overall findings of the book, our results confirm the distinctive dynamic of protest in the three European macro-regions and put the link between social movements and the new challenger parties in perspective.
This chapter links the political consequences of the Great Recession on protest and electoral politics. The economic voting literature offers important insights on how and under what conditions economic crises play out in the short run. However, it tends to ignore the closely connected dynamics of opposition in the electoral and protest arena. Therefore, this chapter combines the literature on economic voting with social movement research. It argues that economic protests act as a ‘signalling mechanism’ by attributing blame to decision-makers and by highlighting the political dimension of deteriorating economic conditions. Ultimately, massive protest mobilization should thus amplify the impact of economic hardship on electoral punishment. The empirical analysis to study this relationship combines the data on protest with a dataset of electoral outcomes in thirty European countries from 2000 to 2015. The results indicate that the dynamics of economic protests and electoral punishment are closely related and that protests contributed to the destabilisation of European party systems during the Great Recession.