Social democratic parties and the rise of ecologism: A comparative analysis of Western Europe

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The rise of green politics and new social movements posed serious challenges for existing party families. Social democratic parties, in particular, found themselves increasingly crammed between old demands of rising industrial productivity and a stable economic growth on the one hand and new demands regarding ecological sustainability and environmental protection on the other. In this study, I examine the influence of green politics on social democratic party ideologies in Western Europe (N=19) during the last decades of the twentieth century. In the first step of the analysis, I carry out a descriptive examination in order to identify parties where ecological demands are clearly present. Here, the empirical observations indicate that parties domiciling in the northern and central parts of Europe generally have been more prone to establish ecological views than parties in Southern Europe. The second step of the study presents at least indicative evidence regarding possible causes of these ecological shifts. Building on previous research on party change - but using a qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) in order to detect equifinal and conjunctural causality - I identify four sufficient paths leading to considerable ecological change within social democratic parties.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)547–570
Number of pages24
JournalComparative European Politics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ecologism
  • party change
  • party ideologies
  • political parties
  • qualitative comparative analysis
  • social democracy

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