© 2018

Controlling the Electoral Marketplace

How Established Parties Ward Off Competition


  • Outlines how established parties affect electoral outcomes by isolating and imitating challengers

  • Analyzes a broad range of elections across Europe from 1944 onwards

  • Provides a refreshing comparison between populist radical right and communist parties


Part of the Political Campaigning and Communication book series (PCC)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Joost van Spanje
    Pages 1-16
  3. Joost van Spanje
    Pages 143-164
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 165-182

About this book


This book studies how established political parties react to the far left and far right parties that have surged in many democracies worldwide. While some of the extremist parties are being imitated in response, established parties can also choose to systematically rule out all political cooperation with them, imposing a cordon sanitaire. A third response by established parties combines these two reactions. How common are these three responses, and how do they affect far left and far right parties’ electoral support? This book addresses these questions by analyzing experimental and non-experimental data from fifteen European countries since 1944. In doing so, it informs scientific and public debates about challenges to established parties, how these parties deal with these challenges, and what the consequences are for the quality of democracy in contemporary democratic societies.


Parrot Parties far-right politics far-left politics political extremism electoral support for fringe parties influence of fringe political parties impact of political extremism on mainstream politics political campaigning co-optation of extreme policy ideas boycotting of extreme policy ideas ostracism of fringe parties

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

About the authors

Joost van Spanje is Associate Professor of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He previously conducted research at the University of Oxford, the EUI in Florence, and New York University. In recent years Joost has won a variety of awards and several personal research grants.

Bibliographic information


“Most treatments of party competition assume an equal playing field. This book takes a big step beyond this conventional depiction by theorizing and demonstrating ways in which the electoral marketplace can be controlled. The book is a must-read by those who wish to better understand how established parties compete with would-be challengers.” (Professor Mark Franklin, European University Institute, Italy)

“There can be no question that the rise of the radical right is enormously consequential. This book makes an important contribution to the debate about the conditions under which radical right political parties succeed—or fail.” (Professor Gary Marks, UNC-Chapel Hill, USA)

“Van Spanje argues that an established party may adopt essentials of a challenger’s policy appeal, but this will deprive the challenger of electoral support only if the incumbent destroys its reputation and claim to competence by excluding it from coalitions. An elegant argument substantiated by meticulous empirical research!” (Professor Herbert Kitschelt, Duke University, USA)