Political Parties in Movements


Movement mobilization has a significant impact on party politics, shaping the brands of political parties and their repertoires of action. Drawing on perspectives from political science and sociology, the project examines the role of movement brands in party politics. We aim to identify the types of parties that are more likely to adopt movement-like brands, to use contextual variation to determine the conditions that facilitate the emergence of movement brands, and to identify their consequences for public support and the mobilizing capacity of different party brands.

Our research design combines (i) a large-N study of party brands, (ii) individual-level responses to different forms of brands, and (iii) case studies of selected moments of intense party-movement interactions. We bridge two levels of analysis: organizations (parties, social movements) and individual citizens. At the organizational level, we introduce new empirical indicators based on original data on parties' names as an indicator of their brand and their presence in protest events as an indicator of their action repertoire. We combine this with data on parties' organizational characteristics and programmatic profiles. At the individual level, we use data on citizens' preferences and intentions to participate in non-electoral forms. We conduct original surveys and survey experiments to map the capacity of different brands to attract support and mobilize citizens. The case studies, which focus on parties from the left and right, are used to identify better the mechanisms behind significant relationships in the large-N study.

Studying the impact of movement mobilization on party politics advances our understanding of the coupling and operational logic of different political arenas. It also bridges the gap between social movement studies and research on elections and party competition. We identify a trend of de-differentiation of arenas of interest mediation: parties aim to instrumentalize and channel protest and movement mobilization. Parties are not only targets of protest and movement-led challenges but also drivers of non-electoral mobilization. We understand the rebranding efforts of mainstream parties as a strategy of resilience. In contrast, challenger parties rely on movement brands as a strategy of innovation that facilitates their breakthrough in the party system. By combining the study of party brands in Western and Eastern Europe, we can show that factors such as the age of democracy and the strength of civil society determine the extent and profile of party involvement in protest politics.