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The Centre on Social Movement Studies

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The Electoral Success of the Radical Left: Explaining the Least Likely Case of the Communist Party in Graz

Manès Weisskircher

Recently, scholars have shown a growing interest in radical left parties (RLPs). In terms of electoral success, the rise of the KPÖ Graz, the Communist Party in Austria’s second biggest city, represents perhaps the most counterintuitive case in Western Europe. This analysis shows how the party has managed to ‘own’ the issue of housing and to exploit local political opportunities in order to be electorally successful. The findings point to the importance of agency and the subnational level for RLPs, and highlight more general questions in the study of this party family.

Type: Journal Article
Year: 2017

Recently, scholars have shown a growing interest in radical left parties (RLPs). In terms of electoral success, the rise of the KPÖ Graz, the Communist Party in Austria’s second biggest city, represents perhaps the most counterintuitive case in Western Europe. Adding to previous studies, the rise of the KPÖ Graz contradicts many of the claims made and patterns found about the conditions for the electoral success of RLPs. While the national KPÖ was voted out of parliament in 1959, the Graz branch has been a member of local government since 1998. Since then, the party has managed to gain 20 per cent of the vote in three out of four elections. In 2017, the KPÖ defended its place as the second largest party in local legislature and stayed ahead of the radical right FPÖ, on the rise at the national level. In stark contrast to the Communists’ current strength, however, they did not gain even 2 per cent of the vote in 1983. This analysis shows how the party has managed to ‘own’ the issue of housing and to exploit local political opportunities in order to be electorally successful. The findings point to the importance of agency and the subnational level for RLPs, and highlight more general questions in the study of this party family.

Weisskircher, M. (2017). The Electoral Success of the Radical Left: Explaining the Least Likely Case of the Communist Party in Graz. Government and Opposition, 1-22. doi:10.1017/gov.2017.14

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/government-and-opposition/article/electoral-success-of-the-radical-left-explaining-the-least-likely-case-of-the-communist-party-in-graz/E274CACEC136DBC4C68CDEF747E82437

News

22/01/2018

Call for Application Now Open: Summer School on Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics

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We are pleased to announce that the call for applications is now open for the 1st Summer School of the ECPR Standing Group on Extremism & Democracy on ‘Concepts and Methods for Research on Far-Right Politics’, sponsored by the Centre for Research on Extremism (C-REX), the European Council for Political Research (ECPR), and the Centre on Social Movement Studies (COSMOS).

19/12/2017

10 Fully funded 4-years PhD positions in Political Science and Sociology, for the AA. 2018/2019, Scuola Normale Superiore

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The grant is for 4 years. it is open to students of all nationalities. Coverage of research expenses (conferences, summer schools, research periods abroads) is provided.

04/12/2017

Martin Portos Garcia wins the ISA's Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists

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The International Sociological Association has just announced the list of the winners of the Seventh Worldwide Competition for Junior Sociologists engaged in social research, amongst which Martin Portos Garcia - post-doc fellow at COSMOS

Publications

Journal Article - 2017

Reshaping Citizenship through Collective Action: Performative and Prefigurative Practices in the 2013–2014 Cycle of Contention in Bosnia & Hercegovina

Chiara Milan
This essay analyses the strategic practices adopted by social movement actors during the 2013 and 2014 mobilisations in Bosnia & Hercegovina. By bridging critical citizenship studies with literature on social movements, it classifies them as belonging to the realm of activist citizenship, but also as having a performative and prefigurative dimension.

Journal Article - 2017

Voting for Movement Parties in Southern Europe: The Role of Protest and Digital Information

Lorenzo Mosca and Mario Quaranta
Despite growing interest in movement parties, there has been scant attention to the role of citizens adopting unconventional forms of action and using digital media in accounting for their electoral performance. To fill this gap, four original internet-based post-electoral surveys are employed showing that protesters and digital media users are more likely to vote for these parties, despite important country differences.