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Lipset & Rokkan

Social Bases of Party Support

Lipset and Rokkan Reading

"Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments,"
by Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan,

in Peter Mair (ed.) The West European Party System (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 91-111.
Abridged from pp. 1-64, Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives edited by Seymour Martin Lipset and Stein Rokkan. Copyright 1967 by The Free Press.

Further abridged by Kenneth Janda

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Most of the parties aspiring to majority positions in the West are conglomerates of groups differing on wide ranges of issues, but still united in their greater hostility to their competitors in the other camps. Conflicts and controversies can arise out of a great variety of relationships in the social structure, but only a few of these tend to polarize the politics of any given system. There is a hierarchy of cleavage bases in each system and these orders of political primacy not only vary among polities, but also tend to undergo changes over time. Such differences and changes in the political weight of sociocultural cleavages set fundamental problems for comparative research: When is region, language, or ethnicity most likely to prove polarizing? When will class take the primacy and when will denominational commitments and religious identities prove equally important cleavage bases? Which sets of circumstances are most likely to favour accommodations of such oppositions within parties and in which circumstances are they more apt to constitute issues between the parties? Which types of alliances tend to maximize the strain on the polity and which ones help to integrate it? Questions such as these will be on the agenda of comparative political sociology for years to come. There is no dearth of hypotheses, but so far very little in the way of systematic analysis across several systems. It has often been suggested that systems will come under much heavier strain if the main lines of cleavage are over morals and the nature of human destiny than if they concern such mundane and negotiable matters as the prices of commodities, the rights of debtors and creditors, wages and profits, and the ownership of property. However, this does not take us very far; what we want to know is when the one type of cleavage will prove more salient than the other, what kind of alliances they have produced and what consequences these constellations of forces have had for consensus- building within the nation-state. We do not pretend to find clear-cut answers, but we have tried to move the analysis one step further. We shall start out with a review of a variety of logically possible sources of strains and oppositions in social structures and shall then proceed to an inventory of the empirically extant examples of political expressions of each set of conflicts. We have not tried to present a comprehensive scheme of analysis in this context but would like to point to one possible line of approach.

Dimensions of Cleavage: A Possible Model

Our suggestion is that the crucial cleavages and their political expressions can be ordered witin the two-dimensional space [shown in Fig. 9. 1 ].

In this model the 1-g [vertical] line represents a territorial dimension of the national cleavage structure and the a-i [horizontal] line a functional dimension.

At the l end of the territorial axis we would find strictly local oppositions to encroachments of the aspiring or the dominant national elites and their bureaucracies: the typical reactions of peripheral regions, linguistic minorities, and culturally threatened populations to the pressures of the centralizing, standardizing, and 'rationalizing' machinery of the nation-state. At the g end of the axis we would find conflicts not between territorial units within the system but over the control, the organization, the goals, and the policy options of the system as a whole. These might be nothing more than direct struggles among competing elites for central power, but they might also reflect deeper differences in conceptions of nationhood, over domestic priorities and over external strategies.

 Conflicts along the a-i axis cut across the territorial units of the nation. They produce alliances of similarly situated or similarly oriented subjects and households over wide ranges of localities and tend to undermine the inherited solidarity of the established territorial communities. At the a end of this dimension we would find the typical conflict over short-term or long-term allocations of resources, products, and benefits in the economy: conflicts between producers and buyers, between workers and employers, between borrowers and lenders, between tenants and owners, between contributors and beneficiaries. At this end the alignments are specific and the conflicts tend to be solved through rational bargaining and the establishment of universalistic rules of allocation. The farther we move toward the i end of the axis, the more diffuse the criteria of alignment, the more intensive the identification with the 'we' group, and the more uncompromising the rejection of the 'they' group. At the i end of the dimension we find the typical 'friend-foe' oppositions of tight-knit religious or ideological movements to the surrounding community. The conflict is no longer over specific gains or losses but over conceptions of moral right and over the interpretation of history and human destiny; membership is no longer a matter of multiple affiliation in many directions, but a diffuse '24-hour' commitment incompatible with other ties within the community; and communication is no longer kept flowing freely over the cleavage lines but restricted and regulated to protect the movement against impurities and the seeds of compromise.

Historically documented cleavages rarely fall at the poles of the two axes: a concrete conflict is rarely exclusively territorial or exclusively functional but will feed on strains in both directions. The model essentially serves as a grid in the comparative analysis of political systems: the task is to locate the alliances behind given parties at given times within this two-dimensional space. The axes are not easily quantifiable, and they may not satisfy any criteria of strict scalability; nevertheless, they seem heuristically useful in attempts such as ours at linking up empirical variations in political structures with current conceptualizations in sociological theory.

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The Two Revolutions: The National and the Industrial

Territorial oppositions set limits to the process of nation-building; pushed to their extreme they lead to war, secession, possibly even population transfers. Functional oppositions can only develop after some initial consolidation of the national territory. They emerge with increasing interaction and communication across the localities and the regions, and they spread through a process of 'social mobilization'[6] The growing nation-state developed a wide range of agencies of unification and standardization and gradually penetrated the bastions of I primordial' local culture. So did the organizations of the Church, sometimes in close co-operation with the secular administrators, often in opposition to and competition with the officers of the state. And so did the many autonomous agencies of economic development and growth, the networks of traders and merchants, of bankers and financiers, of artisans and industrial entrepreneurs.

The early growth of the national bureaucracy tended to produce essentially territorial oppositions, but the subsequent widening of the scope of governmental activities and the acceleration of cross local interactions gradually made for much more complex systems of alignments, some of them between localities, and others across and within localities.

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To account for the variations in such constellations we have found it illuminating to distinguish four critical lines of cleavage [see Fig. 9.2]. Two of these cleavages are direct products of what we might call the National Revolution: the conflict between the central nation-building culture and the increasing resistance of the ethnically, linguistically, or religiously distinct subject populations in the provinces and the peripheries (#1 in Fig. 9.2): the conflict between the centralizing, standardizing, and mobilizing Nation-State and the historically established corporate privileges of the Church (#2).

Two of them are products of the Industrial Revolution: the conflict between the landed interests and the rising class of industrial entrepreneurs (#3): the conflict between owners and employers on the one side and tenants, labourers, and workers on the other (#4).

Much of the history of Europe since the beginning of the nineteenth century can be described in terms of the interaction between these two processes of revolutionary change: the one triggered in France and the other originating in Britain. Both had consequences for the cleavage structure of each nation, but the French Revolution produced the deepest and the bitterest oppositions. The decisive battle came to stand between the aspirations of the mobilizing nation-state and the corporate claims of the churches. This was far more than a matter of economics. It is true that the status of church properties and the financing of religious activities were the subjects of violent controversy, but the fundamental issue was one of morals, of the control of community norms. This found reflection in fights over such matters as the solemnization of marriage and the granting of divorces, the organization of charities and the handling of deviants, the functions of medical versus religious officers, and the arrangements for funerals. However, the fundamental issue between Church and State focused on the control of education.

The Church, whether Roman Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed, had for centuries claimed the right to represent man's 'spiritual estate' and to control the education of children in the right faith. In the Lutheran countries, steps were taken as early as in the seventeenth century to enforce elementary education in the vernacular for all children. The established national churches simply became agents of the state and had no reason to oppose such measures. In the religiously mixed countries and in purely Catholic ones, however, the ideas of the French Revolution proved highly divisive. The development of compulsory education under centralized secular control for all children of the nation came into direct conflict with the established rights of the religious pouvoirs intemidiaires and triggered waves of mass mobilization into nationwide parties of protest. To the radicals and liberals inspired by the French Revolution, the introduction of compulsory education was only one among several measures in a systematic effort to create direct links of influence and control between the nation-state and the individual citizen, but their attempt to penetrate directly to the children without consulting the parents and their spiritual authorities aroused widespread opposition and bitter fights.' [7]

The parties of religious defence generated through this process grew into broad mass movements after the introduction of manhood suffrage and were able to claim the loyalties of remarkably high proportions of the churchgoers in the working class. These proportions increased even more, of course, as the franchise was extended to women on a par with men. Through a process very similar to the one to be described for the Socialist parties, these church movements tended to isolate their supporters from outside influence through the development of a wide variety of parallel organizations and agencies: they not only built up schools and youth movements of their own, but also developed confessionally distinct trade unions, sports clubs, leisure associations, publishing houses, magazines , newspapers, in one or two cases even radio and television stations.

Perhaps the best example of institutionalized segmentation is found in the Netherlands; in fact, the Dutch word Verzuiling has recently become a standard term for tendencies to develop vertical networks (zuilen, columns or pillars) of associations and institutions to ensure maximum loyalty to each church and to protect the supporters from cross-cutting communications and pressures. Dutch society has for close to a century been divided into three distinct subcultures: the national-liberal secular, frequently referred to as the algemene, the 'general' sector; the orthodox Protestant column; and the Roman Catholic column.

The symmetric representation of the four basic cleavage lines in Fig. 9.2 refers to average tendencies only and does not exclude wide variations in location along the a-i axis. Conflicts over the civic integration of recalcitrant regional cultures (#1) or religious organizations (#2) need not always lead to Verzuiling. An analysis of the contrasts between Switzerland and the Netherlands would tell us a great deal about differences in the conditions for the development of pluralist insulation. Conflicts between primary producers and the urban-industrial interests have normally tended towards the a pole of the axis, but there are many examples of highly ideologized peasant oppositions to officials and burghers. Conflicts between workers and employers have always contained elements of economic bargaining, but there have also often been strong elements of cultural opposition and ideological insulation. Working-class parties in opposition and without power have tended to be more verzuild, more wrapped up in their own distinct mythology, more insulated against the rest of the society. By contrast the victorious Labour parties have tended to become ontzuild, domesticated, more open to influence from all segments within the national society.

Similar variations will occur at a wide range of points on the territorial axis of our schema. In our initial discussion of the l pole we gave examples of cultural and religious resistances to the domination of the central national elite, but such oppositions are not always purely territorial. The movements may be completely dominant in their provincial strongholds but may also find allies in the central areas and thus contribute to the development of cross-local and cross-regional fronts.

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The National Revolution forced ever-widening circles of the territorial population to chose sides in conflicts over values and cultural identities. The Industrial Revolution also triggered a variety of cultural countermovements, but in the longer run tended to cut across the value communities within the nation and to force the enfranchised citizenry to choose sides in terms of their economic interests, their shares in the increased wealth generated through the spread of the new technologies and the widening markets.

In our a-g-i-1 paradigm we have distinguished two types of such interest cleavages: cleavages between rural and urban interests (#3) and cleavages between worker and employer interests (#4).

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There was a hard core of economic conflict in these oppositions, but what made them so deep and bitter was the struggle for the maintenance of acquired status and the recognition of achievement. In England, the landed elite ruled the country, and the rising class of industrial entrepreneurs, many of them religiously at odds with the Established Church, for decades aligned themselves in opposition both to defend their economic interests and to assert their claims to status. It would be a misunderstanding, says the historian George Kitson Clark,[8] to think of agriculture 'as an industry organized like any other industry-primarily for the purposes of efficient production. It was ... rather organized to ensure the survival intact of a caste. The proprietors of the great estates were not just very rich men whose capital happened to be invested in land, they were rather the life tenants of very considerable positions which it was their duty to leave intact to their successors. In a way it was the estate that mattered and not the holder of the estate. . . .'The conflict between Conservatives and Liberals reflected an opposition between two value orientations: the recognition of status through ascription and kin connections versus the claims for status through achievement and enterprise.

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In other countries of the European continent the rural-urban cleavage continued to assert itself in national politics far into the twentieth century, but the political expressions of the cleavage varied widely. Much depended on the concentrations of wealth and political control in the cities and on the ownership structure in the rural economy. In the Low Countries, France, Italy, and Spain, rural urban cleavages rarely found direct expression in the development of party oppositions. Other cleavages, particularly between the state and the churches and between owners and tenants, had greater impact on the alignments of the electorates. By contrast, in the five Nordic countries the cities had traditionally dominated national political life, and the struggle for democracy and parliamentary rule was triggered off through a broad process of mobilization within the peasantry. This was essentially an expression of protest against the central elite of officials and patricians (a cleavage on the 1-g axis in our model), but there were also elements of economic opposition in the movement: the peasants felt exploited in their dealings with city folk and wanted to shift the tax burdens to the expanding urban economies. These economic cleavages became more and more pronounced as the primary-producing communities entered into the national money and market economy. The result was the formation of a broad front of interest organizations and co-operatives and the development of distinctive Agrarian parties. Even after the rise of the working-class parties to national dominance, these Agrarian parties did not find it possible to establish common fronts with the Conservative defenders of the business community. The cultural contrasts between the countryside and the cities were still strong, and the strict market controls favoured by the Agrarians could not easily be reconciled with the philosophy of free competition espoused by many Conservatives.

The conflict between landed and urban interests was centred in the commodity market. The peasants wanted to sell their wares at the best possible prices and to buy what they needed from the industrial and urban producers at low cost. Such conflicts did not invariably prove party-forming. They could be dealt with within broad party fronts or could be channelled through interest organizations into narrower arenas of functional representation and bargaining. Distinctly agrarian parties have only emerged where strong cultural oppositions have deepened and embittered the strictly economic conflicts.

Conflicts in the labour market proved much more uniformly divisive. Working-class parties emerged in every country of Europe in the wake of the early waves of industrialization. The rising masses of wage-earners, whether in large-scale farming, in forestry, or in industry, resented their conditions of work and the insecurity of their contracts, and many of them felt socially and culturally alienated from the owners and the employers. The result was the formation of a variety of labour unions and the development of nationwide Socialist parties. The success of such movements depended on a variety of factors: the strength of the paternalist traditions of ascriptive recognition of the worker status, the size of the work unit and the local ties of the workers, the level of prosperity and the stability of employment in the given industry, and the chances of improvements and promotion through loyal devotion or through education and achievement.

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. . . A number of attempts were made to repress the unions and the Socialists, and the working-class organizations consequently tended to isolate themselves from the national culture and to develop soziale Ghettoparteien,[10] strongly ideological movements seeking to isolate their members and their supporters from influences from the encompassing social environments. In terms of our paradigm, these parties were just as close to the i pole as their opponents in the religious camp. This 'anti-system' orientation of large sections of the European working class was brought to a climax in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The Communist movement did not just speak for an alienated stratum of the territorial community but came to be seen as an external conspiracy against the nation. These developments brought a number of European countries to the point of civil war in the twenties and the thirties. The greater the numbers of citizens caught in such direct 'friend-foe' oppositions to each other the greater the danger of total disruption of the body politic.

Developments since World War II have pointed towards a reduction of such pitched oppositions and some softening of ideological tensions: a movement from the i toward the a pole in our paradigm.' [11] A variety of factors contributed to this development: the experience of national co operation during the war, the improvements in the standard of living in the fifties, the rapid growth of a 'new middle class' bridging the gaps between the traditional working class and the bourgeoisie. But the most important factor was possibly the entrenchment of the working-class parties in local and national governmental structures and their consequent 'domestication' within the established system.

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The Transformation of Cleavage Structures into Party Systems

Conditions for the Channelling of Opposition

Thus far, we have focused on the emergence of one cleavage at a time and only incidentally concerned ourselves with the growth of cleavage systems and their translations into constellations of political parties. But cleavages do not translate themselves into party oppositions as a matter of course: there are considerations of organizational and electoral strategy; there is the weighing of pay~offs of alliances against losses through split-offs; and there is the successive narrowing of the 'mobilization market' through the time sequences of organizational efforts. Here we enter into an area of crucial concern in current theorizing and research, an area of great fascination crying out for detailed co-operative research. Very much needs to be done in reanalysing the evidence for each national party system and even more in exploring the possibilities of fitting such findings into a wider framework of developmental theory. We cannot hope to deal exhaustively with such possibilities of comparison in this volume and shall limit ourselves to a discussion of a few characteristic developments and suggest a rough typology.

How does a socio-cultural conflict get translated into an opposition between parties? To approach an understanding of the variations in such processes of translation we have to sift out a great deal of information about the conditions for the expression of protest and the representation of interests in each society.

First, we must know about the traditions of decision-making in the polity: the prevalence of conciliar versus autocratic procedures of central government, the rules established for the handling of grievances and protests, the measures taken to control or to protect political associations, the freedom of communication, and the organization of demonstrations.[13]

Second, we must know about the channels for the expression and mobilization of protest: Was there a system of representation and if so how accessible were the representatives, who had a right to choose them, and how were they chosen? Was the conflict primarily expressed through direct demonstrations, through strikes, sabotage, or open violence, or could it be channelled through regular elections and through pressures on legitimately established representatives?

Third, we need information about the opportunities, the pay-offs, and the costs of alliances in the system: How ready or reluctant were the old movements to broaden their bases of support and how easy or difficult was it for new movements to gain representation on their own?

Fourth and finally, we must know about the possibilities, the implications, and the limitations of majority rule in the system: What alliances would be most likely to bring about majority control of the organs of representation and how much influence could such majorities in fact exert on the basic structuring of the institutions and the allocations within the system?

The Four Thresholds

These series of questions suggest a sequence of thresholds in the path of any movement pressing forward new sets of demands within a political system.

First, the threshold of legitimation: Are all protests rejected as conspiratorial, or is there some recognition of the right of petition, criticism, and opposition?

Second, the threshold of incorporation: Are all or most of the supporters of the movement denied status as participants in the choice of representatives or are they given political citizenship rights on a par with their opponents?

Third, the threshold of representation: Must the new movement join larger and older movements to ensure access to representative organs or can it gain representation on its own?

Fourth, the threshold of majority power: Are there built-in checks and counterforces against numerical majority rule in the system or will a victory at the polls give a party or an alliance power to bring about major structural changes in the national system?

The early comparative literature on the growth of parties and party systems focused on the consequences of the lowering of the two first thresholds: the emergence of parliamentary opposition and a free press and the extension of the franchise. Tocqueville and Ostrogorski, Weber and Michels, all in their various ways, sought to gain insight into that central institution of the modern polity, the competitive mass party.[14] The later literature, particularly since the t920s, changed its focus to the third and the fourth threshold: the consequences of the electoral system and the structure of the decision-making arena for the formation and the functioning of party systems. The fierce debates over the pros and cons of electoral systems stimulated a great variety of efforts at comparative analysis, but the heavy emotional commitments on the one or the other side often led to questionable interpretations of the data and to overhasty generalizations from meagre evidence. Few of the writers could content themselves with comparisons of sequences of change in different countries. They wanted to influence the future course of events, and they tended to be highly optimistic about the possibilities of bringing about changes in established party systems through electoral engineering. What they tended to forget was that parties once established develop their own internal structure and build up long-term commitments among core supporters. The electoral arrangements may prevent or delay the formation of a party, but once it has been established and entrenched, it will prove difficult to change its character simply through variations in the conditions of electoral aggregation. In fact, in most cases it makes little sense to treat electoral systems as independent variables and party systems as dependent. The party strategists will generally have decisive influence on electoral legislation and opt for the systems of aggregation most likely to consolidate their position, whether through increases in their representation, through the strengthening of the preferred alliances, or through safeguards against splinter movements. In abstract theoretical terms it may well make sense to hypothesize that simple majority systems will produce two-party oppositions within the culturally more homogeneous areas of a polity and only generate further parties through territorial cleavages, but the only convincing evidence of such a generalization comes from countries with a continuous history of simple majority aggregations from the beginnings of democratic mass politics. There is little hard evidence and much uncertainty about the effects of later changes in election laws on the national party system: one simple reason is that the parties already entrenched in the polity will exert a great deal of influence on the extent and the direction of any such changes and at least prove reluctant to see themselves voted out of existence.

Any attempt at systematic analysis of variations in the conditions and the strategies of party competition must start out from such differentiations of developmental phases. We cannot, in this context, proceed to detailed country-by-country comparisons but have to limit ourselves to a review of evidence for two distinct sequences of change: the rise of lower-class movements and parties and the decline of régime censitaire parties.

The Rules of the Electoral Game

The early electoral systems all set a high threshold for rising parties. It was everywhere very difficult for working-class movements to gain representation on their own, but there were significant variations in the openness of the systems to pressures from the new strata. The second ballot systems so well known from the Wilbelmine Reich and from the Third and the Fifth French Republics set the highest possible barrier, absolute majority, but at the same time made possible a variety of local alliances among the opponents of the Socialists: the system kept the new entrants underrepresented, yet did not force the old parties to merge or to ally themselves nationally. The blatant injustices of the electoral system added further to the alienation of the working classes from the national institutions and generated what Giovanni Sartori has described as systems of 'centrifugal pluralism': [15]

Simple-majority systems of the British-American type also set high barriers against rising movements of new entrants into the political arena; however, the initial level is not standardized at 50 per cent of the votes cast in each constituency but varies from the outset with the strategies adopted by the established parties. If they join together. in defence of their common interests, the threshold is high; if each competes on its own, it is low. In the early phases of working-class mobilization, these systems have encouraged alliances of the 'Lib-Lab' type.

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This brings us to a crucial point in our discussion of the translation of cleavage structure into party systems: the costs and the pay-offs of mergers, alliances, and coalitions. The height of the representation threshold and the rules of central decision- making may increase or decrease the net returns ofjoint action, but the intensity of inherited hostilities and the openness of communications across the cleavage lines will decide whether mergers or alliances are actually workable. There must be some minimum of trust among the leaders, and there must be some justification for expecting that the channels to the decision- makers will be kept open whoever wins the election. The British electoral system can only be understood against the background of the long-established traditions of territorial representation; the NIP represents all his constituents, not just those who voted him in. But this system makes heavy demands on the loyalty of the constituents: in two-party contests up to 49 per cent of them may have to abide by the decisions of a representative they did not want; in three-cornered fights, as much as 66 per cent.

Such demands are bound to produce strains in ethnically culturally, or religiously divided communities: the deeper the cleavages the less the likelihood of loyal acceptance ofdecisions by representatives of the other side. It was no accident that the

A Model for the Generation of the European Party System
Four Decisive Dimensions of Opposition

This review of the conditions for the translation of sociocultural cleavages into political oppositions suggests three conclusions.

First, the constitutive contrasts in the national system of party constellations generally tended to manifest themselves before any lowering of the threshold of representation. The decisive sequences of party formation took place at the early stage of competitive politics, in some cases well before the extension of the franchise, in other cases on the very eve of the rush to mobilize the finally enfranchised masses.

Second, the high thresholds of representation during the phase of mass politicization set severe tests for the rising political organizations. The surviving formations tended to be firmly entrenched in the inherited social structure and could not easily be dislodged through changes in the rules of the electoral game.

Third, the decisive moves to lower the threshold of representation reflected divisions among the established régime censitaire parties rather than pressures from the new mass movements. The introduction of PR added a few additional splinters but essentially served to ensure the separate survival of parties unable to come together in common defence against the rising contenders of majority power.

What happened at the decisive party-forming phase in each national society? Which of the many contrasts and conflicts were translated into party oppositions, and how were these oppositions built into stable systems?

This is not the place to enter into detailed comparisons of developmental sequences nation by nation. Our task is to suggest a framework for the explanation of variations in cleavage bases and party constellations.

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The decisive contrasts among the Western party systems clearly reflect differences in the national histories of conflict and compromise across the first three of the four cleavage lines distinguished in our analytical schema: the 'centre-periphery', the State-Church, and the land-industry cleavages generated national developments in divergent directions, while the owner-worker cleavage tended to bring the party systems closer to each other in their basic structure. The crucial differences among the party systems emerged in the early phases of competitive politics, before the final phase of mass mobilization. They reflected basic contrasts in the conditions and sequences of nation- building and in the structure of the economy at the point.of take-off towards sustained growth. This, to be sure, does not mean that the systems vary exclusively on the 'Right' and at the centre, but are much more alike on the 'Left' of the political spectrum. There are working-class movements throughout the West, but they differ conspicuously in size, in cohesion in ideological orientation, and in the extent of their integration into, or alienation from, the historically given national policy. Our point is simply that the factors generating these differences on the left are secondary. The decisive contrasts among the systems had emerged before the entry of the working-class parties into the political arena, and the character of these mass parties was heavily influenced by the constellations of ideologies, movements, and organizations they had to confront in that arena.

A Model in Three Steps

To understand the differences among the Western party systems we have to start out from an analysis of the situation of the active nation-building lute on the eve of the breakthrough to democratization and mass mobilization: What had they achieved and where had they met most resistance? What were their resources, who were their nearest allies, and where could they hope to find further support? Who were their enemies, what were their resources, and where could they recruit allies and rally reinforcement?

Any attempt at comparative analysis across so many divergent national histories is fraught with grave risks. It is easy to get lost in the wealth of fascinating detail, and it is equally easy to succumb to facile generalities and irresponsible abstractions. Scholarly prudence prompts us to proceed case by case, but intellectual impatience urges us to go beyond the analysis of concrete contrasts and try out alternative schemes of systematization across the known cases.

To clarify the logic of our approach to the comparative analysis of party systems, we have developed a model of alternative alliances and oppositions. We have posited several sets of actors, have set up a series of rules of alliance and opposition among these, and have tested the resultant typology of potential party systems against a range of empirically known cases.

Our model seeks to reduce the bewildering variety of empirical party systems to a set of ordered consequences of decisions and developments at three crucial junctures in the history of each nation:

first, during the Reformation--the struggle for the control of the ecclesiastical organizations within the national territory;

second, in the wake of the 'Democratic Revolution' after 1789--the conflict over the control of the vast machineries of mass education to be built up by the mobilizing nation-states;

finally, during the early phases of the Industrial Revolution--the opposition between landed interests and the claims of the rising commercial and industrial leadership in cities and towns.

Our eight types of alliance-opposition structure are in fact the simple combinatorial products of three successive dichotomies [see Fig. 9.3]. The model spells out the consequences of the fateful division of Europe brought about through Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. The outcomes of the early struggles between State and Church determined the structure of national politics in the era of democratization and mass mobilization three hundred years later. In Southern and Central Europe the Counter-Reformation had consolidated the position of the Church and tied its fate to the priviliged bodies of the ancien régime. The result was a polarization of politics between a national-radical-secular movement and a Catholic-traditionalists one.

State Controls
State Allied to
National Church
Roman Catholic Church
National Church
Strong Roman
State Allied to
Roman Church
Commitment to
Commitment to
Commitment to
Commitment to
FIG. 9.3

Implications for Comparative Political Sociology

We have pushed our attempt at a systematization of the comparative history of partisan oppositions in European polities up to some point in the 1920s, to the freezing of the major party alternatives in the wake of the extension of the suffrage and the mobilization of major sections of the new reservoirs of potential supporters. Why stop there? Why not pursue this exercise in comparative cleavage analysis right up to the 1960s? The reason is deceptively simple: the party systems of the 1960s reflect, with few but significant exceptions, the cleavage structures of the 1920s. This is a crucial characteristic of Western competitive politics in the age of 'high mass consumption': the party alternatives, and in remarkably many cases the party organizations, are older than the majorities of the national electorates. To most of the citizens of the West. the currently active parties have been part of the political landscape since their childhood or at least since they were first faced with the choice between alternative 'packages' on election day.

This continuity is often taken as a matter of course; in fact it poses an intriguing set of problems for comparative sociological research. An amazing number of the parties which had established themselves by the end of World War I survived not only the onslaughts of Fascism and National Socialism but also another world war and a series of profound changes in the social and cultural structure of the polities they were part of. How was this possible? How were these parties able to survive so many changes in the political, social, and economic conditions of their operation? How could they keep such large bodies of citizens identifying with them over such long periods of time, and how could they renew their core clienteles from generation to generation?

There is no straightforward answer to any of these questions. We know much less about the internal management and the organizational functioning of political parties than we do about their socio-cultural base and their external history of participation in public decision-making.

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1. W. Chambers, Parties in a New Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 80-2.

2. R. Schachter, "Single-Party Systems in West Africa," American Political Science Review, 55 (1961), 301-

3. For a general analysis of this process, see S. M. Lipset et al., Union Democracy (New York: Free Press, 1956), 268-9.

4. E. A. Ross, The Principles of Sociology (New York: Century, 1920), 164-5; G. Simmel, Soziologie (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1923 and 1958), ch. 4. See the translation in Conflict and the Web of Group Affiliates (New York: Free Press, 1964).

5. Lewis Namier, England in the Age of the American Revolution (London: Macmillan, 1930), quoted from the 2nd edn. (1961) 183.

6. For a definition of this concept and a specification of possible indicators, see Karl Deutsch, 'Social Mobilization and Political Development', American Political Science Review, 55 (196 1), 493-514.

7. For an analysis of the steps in the extension of citizenship rights and duties to all accountable adults, see S. Rokkan, 'Mass Suffrage, Secret Voting and Political Participation', Archives Europiennes de Sociologie, 2 (196l), 132-52, and the chapter by R. Bendix and S. Rokkan, 'The Extension of Citizenship to the Lower Classes', in R. Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship (New York: Wiley, 1964).

8. G. K. Clark, The Making of Victorian England (London: Methuen, 1962), 2 18 (our italics).

9. J. Cornford, 'The Transformation of Conservatism in the Late 19th Century', Victorian Studies, 7 (1963), 35-66.

10. This is the phrase used by Ernest Fraenkel, 'Pariament und oeffentliche Meinung', in Zur Geschichte und Problematik der Demokratie: Festgabe fuer H. Herzfeld (Berlin: Duncker & Humbolt, 1958), 178.

11. One of the first political analysts to call attention to these developments was Herbert Tingsten, then editor-in-chief of the leading Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. See his autobiography, Milt Liv (Tidningen (Stockholm: Norstedts, 1963). For further details see S. M. Lipset, 'The Changing Class Structure and Contemporary European Politics', Daedalus, 93 (1964), 271- 303.

12. Erik Allardt, 'Patterns of Class Conflict and Working Class Consciousness in Finnish Politics', in E. Allardt and Y. Littunen (eds.), Cleavages, Ideologies and Par!y Systems (Helsinki: Westermarck Society, 1964), 97-131.

13. In a recent review of West European developments Hans Daalder has argued this point with great force. It is impossible to understand the development, structure, and operation ofparty systems without a study of the extent of elite competition before the industrial and the democratic revolutlons. He singles out Britain, the Low Countries, Switzerland, and Sweden as the countries with the strongest traditions of conciliar pluralism and points to the consequences of these preconditions for the development of integrated party systems. See H. Daalder, Parties, Elites, and Political Developments in Western Europe', in J. LaPalombara and M. Weiner (eds.), Political Parties and Potilical Development (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966). For a fuller discussion of the contrasts in the character of the nation-building process, see S. P. Huntington, 'Political Modernization: America vs. Europe', World Politics, 18 (1966), 378--414.

14. For a review of this literature, see S. M. Lipset, 'Introduction: Ostrogorski and the Analytical Approach to the Comparative Study of Political Parties', in M. I. Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties (abridged edn.; New York: Doubleday, 1964), pp. ix--lxv.