Are social democratic parties insider parties? Electoral strategies of social democratic parties in Western Europe in the age of dualization

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Abstract

The article analyses the electoral strategies of social democratic parties in the context of increased and new inequalities among its electorate. The literature on the politics of dualization argues that social democratic parties are essentially insider parties. By contrast, I argue that they also target outsiders by promoting policies that facilitate the integration of outsiders into the labour market and enhance their social protection. There are two reasons that make outsiders electorally attractive for social democratic parties: first, the share of outsiders has been growing strongly, while the share of insiders has been decreasing. As a consequence, social democratic parties cannot hope to win elections solely on the basis of their insider constituency. Second, outsiders are not as politically inactive as the original insider–outsider literature suggests which makes them electorally more attractive to social democratic parties. To analyse the electoral strategies of social democratic parties, I rely on original data on party statements as reported in newspapers during election campaigns between 2007 and 2010 in four continental European countries (Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands). The evidence clearly suggests that social democratic parties are no insider parties but propose policies in the interests of outsiders.

Keywords

Social democracy Inequality Electoral mobilization Labour market dualization Insider–outsider divides 

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany

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