I

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Recasting Social Democracy in Europe: I I N e s t e ~ G ~ e s " and
Rational choices in the Strategic Adjustment Process
by Thomas Koelble
Dept of Political Science
University of Miami
and
CES, Harvard University, 1991
Working Paper Series #32
I
ABSTRACT
The article is an attempt to solve a "ratidnal choice" puzzle
with a "nested games" answer. The data is four social
democratic parties, alII of which face a nUmberl ofl rather similar
strategic dilemmas and I policy choices. Whilelall four of these
cases eventually found :their way to a strategy,
each party undertook a rather different journeyl The Spanish PSOE
and the Swedish SAP their policy positiorts and electoral
strategy relatively smoothly and with little intra-party turmoil.
Not so the British Labopr Party and the Both parties
suffered internal strife, defections and electoral losses. Why
• I I I
such The nested games approach aliows us to focus on
the strategic choices of intra-party players hbw their choices
are shaped by institutional settings. The article suggests that
the preferences and position of the unions workers in
declining and industries inside I these parties
explains, to a large extent, the degree of difflcuity in adjusting
to new electoral conditiions. The more entrenchedI representatives
from such unions are irt the party, the more resistance there will
be to policy and strategic changes to their
members and union organizations. I· I
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Recasting SQcial DemQcracy in EurQpe; "Nested GameS" and Rational
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Choices in the strategic Adaptation Process
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All ma jQr working II class-based parties, so.. cial demoqratic,
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socialist or otherwise, I face similar sets Qf On the one
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hand, they are required Ito respond to changing ec.onomic conditions
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which curtail their ability to increase governmJntal expenditures.
social democracy faces In "efficiency challenge"I the political
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right, not only in terms of whether the state functions
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effectively or squanderi taxpayers' money but also from
industrial interests which succeeded in governmental
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intervention in the ecpnomy as a drag on growth. (Offe,
1984; scharpf, 1987) Redistributive social demJcratic policies II
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are no longer popular ,when the extension of its to working
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class groups through social, incomes and industrial policies are
viewed as detrimental Ito both economy and tfe of the
electorate.
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On the other hand working class-based are forced to
respond to social changes in terms Qf a shift from the blue-
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collar, unionized workforce to a much more het,erolgenous base both
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in terms of occupatio, and values.(Dunleavy jndl Husbands, 1985;
Przeworski and spraguel' 1986) White-collar students and
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professionals are aSI, if not more, important as electoral
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constituencies than blue-collar workers. The "post-material" I'
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challenge to working qlass-based parties may 'fary from country to
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country in severity, blut the heart of the matter is not whether
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elist or not social
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2
parties can adapt Jo new political demands and issues raised by
• I" I • I k 1
groups of the blue-collar 1990; Mer e ,
1990) As Adam notes, not only is social democratic
policy at \ I but its entire electoral and political
I '. . \ . 1 d t'
1985) groups shfuld emocra
parties appeal td: ,Jts traditional base or other social groups?
This study I,is'l I an attempt to explain \ a "rational choice"
puzzle. Given tJatl"lvarious working class-bJsed parties are faced
, "1 I i I . ,I d
ar of why do they respon so
differently to challenges in their process? The
d
\ 1\ .. ,I" 't'
s t u y focuses on four maJor soct.aj, an aan ,
Germany, Spain I Sweden. All four have undergone
' t t ' t J . I 1 . I d . I' h' ,
ad JUs men s electora an po c
response to social economic change. TheJe is in fact only one
"rational" choicelirilterms of electoral straJegy for these parties
if we posit that Jolltical parties want to wJn elections and adopt
,., L \ , , d d \ 't' t
vot s:... an or er to 0 ,so. Now, as no
1 ,I '
surprising that lall! four parties have irldeed discovered the
i l I. , I '1 d '
e 1ect ora11y most strategy. However, an
condi tions have deeh
l
such that this strateJy has been the only
, t ' 11 \ .J • 1 h' f I, r.- t '
y c or some nua
" f I I I , 1 h' It ' . th t . t h
rom a c perspec a as
II . , \, d
t ak en some 0 f theS
I
a very long to and a opt
the vote-maximizing llectoral approach. Ea6h party has taken a
distinct route to tWe same destination. The Spanish socialist
Party (PSOE) adoptedJhe rational, vote-maXimilzing strategy in 1982
3
without much internal ,urmoil or electoral Swedish
Social Democrats (SAP) have mad€ the change torthe strategy in a
similarly smooth transiFion. The German SOCial: oLmocratic Party
. d d . ff . It .
( SPO) , on the other hand, has exper1ence maJor
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l
1 1CU 1es 1n
.
. . i / .. /1 I. h
arr1v1ng at the rat onal strategy. The Br1t1sh. Labour Party as
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had the roughest of electorally and organizationally in its
...1 t t . 1981 I i I
pa
th t
0 a vo
t
e-max1m1Z1r9 s ra egy S1nce . I I
The research question is: why do some. IParties adjust
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relatively smoothly to Inew economic and social 17onditions whereas
other parties experience great stickiness in' tJeir efforts to
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adjust? Why do some parties take so much longer to see the light
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than others? Why do they seem unconcerned abouf massive electoral
losses and pursue elecJoral strategies and attractive to
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only a small section of the electorate? The developed in
/' I' /
this article focuses on the strategic choices a'ctirs wi thin social
democratic parties flce when dealing with !Itheir intra-party
opponents. The is that adaptation iSI :m1re difficult for
parties with a stronJ organizational connection to blue-collar
. . d I .. . I
d
. d I . Iii If'
un10ns 1n ec 1n1ng 1n ustr1es an re at1ve y, smooth or part1es
. th t . It' l' d d f I i I. . d l' .
W1 a grea er ozqarn.aa a.ona an epen ence rom una.ons an ec a.m.nq
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industries.
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The following deals with only 0ne explanation.
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Explanations focusing Ion structural to electoral and
policy adjustment are/'mentioned briefly as aJe those focusing on
rational vote-maximization. Both schools of th..
/
oug'
/
ht are dismissed
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I
since they can eXPlail one type of response hi' bt the other in a
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4
comparison in I focus on two parties which apparentl
,I) , '\ ! I d t
adJusted qui.ckLy arid with little paan (SAP and PSOE an wo
parties in Whidh I ladjustment was both divisive and painful
electorally SPO). I argue thal only an explanation
focusing on the within parties and tJeir preferences leads
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to both a plausible explanation and accurate description ot
11 \ I d l' h ,I Th f 11 '
s t rugg1es over e ectoral an po c o rces , e 0
, I i I I h' h
exp.l anat.Lon draws much from the "nested games" approach w ac
suggests that the1oJicomes of intra-party stJUggleS are explicable
i ':1 , ,I Lnt; t 1
on1y through an of the act.Lons of an ra-par y payers
whose rational chdidJs are structured not by the institutional
structure of tJe i I party but also by competing political II
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arenas. (Tsebelis,
I
,1990)
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Electoral Strategy and Policy Choices :
Social democJatlc face a dilemma. On the one
hand, they need to
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their traditionall electoral coalition.
Given that the base of the has shrunk in size
significantly the last twenty years, \ working class-based
parties face the Juefrion of whether to voters from social
groups outside olf· their traditional basel and, if so, how.
' d \ ,I ) . I . , ,
(Przeworsk an Sprague, 1986 It as nat a
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strategy to concentrate on purely the working class
, th t '1
s i.nce a soci.a group
ill
on y
r
represen
t
s
1
2
OQ.
or
1
ess 0:
- th
some "T) e
electorate. parties hate to choose between
appealing to theiJ tJaditional base (therebY! consistently losing
' ) I "\ \,
e 1ect a.ons or whe1ther to chase voters from' other soci.aL groups
5
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(thereby losing their character as a work1ng classlparty).
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On the other hand, Isocial democratic parties fjace a series of
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policy dilemmas which I overlap with their eriect10ral strategy
problem. Policy preferences reflect the interests, of whoever the
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intended voters are. I If the party jWedded to its
traditional policies (commitments to welfare statel· expansion, job
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protection, economic grrwth, wage lit is to
remain stuck with its I'established base but littie support from
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't d Ld Li , I I
groups b eyond 1. oncel the party eC1 es to new po 1c1es,
it is likely to appeall to new social groups less so to its I
traditional base. The Ichoices social democratic Jarties face are
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illustrated in the four matrix box: I i ['
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Table I:
I Electoral Strategy I
Recapture working class Appeal to other groups
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Appeal on I -Workerism Democracy
traditional
-Socialism II
I policies '
I'
Policy
i i i
I I Strategy I
Appeal on -Popular -Rainbow Coalition
new policies Authoritarianism
FiarfY Strategy
Adapted from: Ivor Crewe, "The Decline of Labor and the Decline of
Labour", paper at the APSA, San Franbispo, August 1990.
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Some of these pojl i.cy and electoral strateJy choices offer
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alternatives. If a chooses to appeal to its established base
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with traditional polictes, then the party may so either with a
penchant for socialism (nationalization, econdmia autarcky, state
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planning) or with policies designed to protect I failing industries,
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jobs and the social programs which were Idesigned to help
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workers in such in'dustries while maintaining capitalism. If a
party chooses to to new social groupJ with new policies it
may do so by either
l
\appealing to the social protest movements and
environmentalist giJups (to build a "rainl)ow" coalition as the
Dutch Socialist (PvdA) has done), or may experiment with
a very broad range policies designed to attract the white collar
workers, professioriAls and voters. (Wolinetz,
1988; Crewe, 1990) "government party" skrategy offers a vast
range of policies to attract as a range of social
. I 11 d .
a 1
th
par y groups. It may anc u e envazonaen
tIl'
po 1C1es
I . . f
e
t'
1S
threatened by a Grlen Party; it may for libertarian
policies if a party competes with sodial democrats for the
• \ I \ I ,
1ntended electoral target. The "government party" strategy 1S
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reminiscent of Lipsei's "end of ideology" because social democracy
,., \
ab andons any pretens10n of be1ng a work1ng class party and adopts
. .. t h Illi I l' . I ., d' t' t
a c 1aSS1C ca c -ai po 1CY potpourr1. However, 1t 1S 1S 1nc
from the social dem6dratic "catch-all" stratlgy of the 1950's and
60' s since it appeall,s to groups outside of \ the white and blue­
collar working The aim is to bJild an even broader
I
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social/electoral coailition than social democracy by offering
"something for
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ever,yone" to match the
\
electoral appeal of
conservative parties':. I I
,
II. h th I .th 1 1 ' .
Appea1s t 0 the work1ng class, weer W1 0 d po 1C1es or
I I
wi th new ones (such I as "law and order", Jence the subheading
popular authoritariJnism), are likely lo be electorally
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counterproductive. ( Crewe, 1990) Since the .traditional working
7
class base has shrunk, reliance on the old' base is only a
"rational" strategy if tilhe party means to be a ve of
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the blue-collar working class with no pretensionis of capturing
' t · I ,I I I· 't I!, k' t
po
l
power an/e ectora y. sugges s
that working class parties gave up any pretension f representing
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purely one class as soon as they enteffd I parliamentary
competition. (prZeWOrSkij', 1985) Social is the attempt to
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provide policies for groups outside of the working class as well as
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a broad coalition between white and blue-collar
I i
1982)
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As the following typology indicates, the parties under
, 't· I I • t II I t t '
r.on al opted for the 'governmen party
It
s ra egy
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recent years. However 'I' two parties meandered ir.om "socialism" to
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"social democracy" to their final destination. Labour travelled in
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l
dissarray; the Spanish jPSOE underwent a similar tfansformation in
a much less divisive anr more coherent manner. I (hi German SPD and
the Swedish SAP moved I from traditional social democracy to the
"government party" strategy, but also on diverJenJ paths. The SPD
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underwentconsiderable!internal upheaval whereas SAP underwent
little internal fi9htiig over the strategic
Table II: Electoral strategies I I
Strategy 1: Socialism strategy 2:1 Sopial Democracy
Labour Labour119174-79
PSOE 1975-'78 PSOE I 1979-82
SAP 19/75-82 I
SPD 1'19,74-87
I
strategy 3: strategy 4:1 Government party
! I Strategy

PSOE I
SAP .
SPD 1 88-present
8
The Case of sticky ITransformations; British Labour and Germany's
\
Both and the SPO a very difficult
, I I
transformation pOlicies of the 1950's to 70'S to the
I \ \ . I Ott d t
government party! strategy. Both were e 0
traditional \ democratic strategies and appealed to a
combination of and white collar worke+s throughout most of
this period. rnltJl 1970's both parties sJffered major internal
upheavals in of intra-party leading to the
defection of singlfiJant groups of activists, party politicians and
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voters. (Koelble, The struggle revolved around the issue of
which social interests the partJ ought to represent:
i
those in deClinibg II industries who were affected by
economic or those in PublJc and private sectors
who were doing well and/or those JhO were concerned not
l
't 'th' \ II . t .flo
JUs of growth bu e-sty e
(environment, femJnilm, civil rights, as well.
The Istruggle over party I policy. personnel
appointments and rules was so severe In both cases that it
lead to the emergJncW of challenging parties Iformed by the losers
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of the struggle and subsequent defectors. (Koe]ble, 1987: 1991) The
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electoral defeats bf both Labour and the SPO lin 1983 and 1987 can
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be attributed, at least partially, to the emergence of these small
parties. The Party (SOP) In Britain emerged as
a result of the
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leftward drift of the
:
Labour Party towards a
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socialist economic iporicy, whereas the Green Party responded to the
I
dominance of the party lleadershi
P
in the SPO JOOk issues sue:
as environmental protecfion, the nuclear protesh mtvement and the
peace issue less seriously than the social supporters in
I
the
I
to. The
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SPO thought they 0ight result of Fre organ1zat10na
and electoral split in both cases led f"') a I cOlli·nterproductive
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outcome: electoral defeat and a long per10d of conservat1ve
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government. I I 1
Both parties haVer since their electoral d1feats in 1987.
l
their policy packages and electoral strategies. The SPO
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has become far more rec,eptive to the issues of hhe social protest
,I ,.', tIl' I
movement and has 1ncorporated an Lnnovatn.ve em,·:"Zilonmen a po 1CY
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platform into its party program.(Padgett, 19891)1 IEqUallY, Labour
adjusted its policy stJategy. The Labour Party ,OliC
Y
Review of
1989 could well be mistlken for the policies by the Social
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Democratic Party in 1981, spiced up with policies designed to
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attract homebuyers, upwardly mobile white-collar workers and
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professionals! (Crewe, 1990) In other words'l bith parties are
attempting to recapture lost voters via the government party
i " h! . I' t
s
t
rat e
gy
•. Th e secret 10 success, 1t 1S oped, lis a non-SOC1a 1S
economic policy (less I intervention in the economy, more market
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mechanisms, temp£red erivironmental policies, a: less active social
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and incomes policy, Iless progressive taxat1.'on to stimulate
II I
investment and economic growth) coupled with a commitment to
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represent not only those interests in society have suffered
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as a result of economic adjustment but also thoJe sectors which
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have benefitted. Nevertheless, the journey towards this solution
IIII
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I
II
10
.1
I !II,
was extremely d ~ f f ~ c u 1 t and marked by a long period out of
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government, external I challenges and internal I discord.
I 'I II II
The Case of Smooth Transformations: the Spanish PSOE and Sweden's
11
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to adjust to changing inlternational market conditions by lowering
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production costs ( leSj social expenditure, II! e sl's wages, less
taxation progressivity). (Tilton, 1990) The struggle was won by the
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adjustment proponents ,ut not at the expense 19f organizational
disintegration or significant electoral losses of the time of
writing!). Similarly the remarkable of the PSOE
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from a socialist to a social democratic to a mildly Ireformist party
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in Spain did not invd1lve serious defections. (Gillespie, 1988;
II I
Williams, 1988) The electoral strategy deve10ped by Felipe
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Gonzales and his CIOSejt advisor Alfonso i was acepted by
almost all sections Of! the party with 11 ttle tion. (Share.
1989) I I I
Orthodox Explanations; Structural Limits or Correct and Incorrect
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I Choices II I
Two approaches dbminate the field of 'Icom,'parative party
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politics. Since this essay is supposed to be an effort in theory
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application rather than critique of other approaches, I will only
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briefly describe their major hypotheses and Many
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authors have argued that parties depend on thel.r social base.
I" II I I' ,
Butler and Stokes suggest that l.f the soct af base dec a nes an
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numbers, as has done I the working class , the electoral
performance of the party is going to decline as and
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Stokes, 1969) While not all authors agree with this correlation,
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there are many who view, parties as essentially - if not in
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a social base then in r
l
n economic contradiction. I Przeworski and
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others have suggested that social democracy is really nothing more
I
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12
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than an working class response to capitalism.
(Przeworski, bocial democracy depends
l
on a certain type of
I ,I " f thO
welfare capitali m and once the econceu.c 0 as
! I I
"stage of capitalism" disappears, so does the "social democratic
1984)
I
exp
l'

'"
(Offe,
!
such approac
h
es
I

, t
e we
11 th
e
I ! \ \ , f
problems of Labour and SPO, but do less well the success 0
I : I 'hi t ' d 'th
PSOE and SAP. these are c arac er as
untypical of blass based parties (the Ispanish "sell-out" or
Scand
" It.i I.
or on
th
e
b'
r1n
k
0
f d
ec
I'
1ne. 1naV1an excep 10na11sm)
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Other authors disagree with the notion that parties are
wedded to their base. Ivor Crewe mainJains that the decline
. I ,I I
of the Labour is not due to structural shifts in the
i l , I. (
e 1ect orate or the soc1al base but due to reasons. Crewe,
1990) Simply puJ, party has fallen oJt of favor with the
electorate becausl s policy positions do \ not correspond with
.. I I I· f I' 't
popu1ar oparn.on , (Crewe, 1990) The party 1S out 0 ane r 1
. ,II j . If th 1 t' .
represent s 1nterests of a sect10n 0 e popu a 10n 1n
declining regions lnd I industries of Britain. fhe party can reverse
its fortunes if it! ad6pts a better, more suitable policy package.
· d I II· 'hi", ,
Gost a Esp1ng-An ersenessent1ally agrees W1t !th1s po1nt of V1ew 1n
h
. Lvsi f thJ il " , 1 d I. . 1 '
1S ana YS1S 0 . scandanavaan SOC1a emocrat1c part1es. Po 1CY
choices are crucJai I in explaining why parties do well
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electorally and others do not.(Esping-Andersen, 1985)
Each approach! a powerful of party behavior.
While both approacJeJ lcan adequately explain Jither the decline of
, 'I I I
some part1es or the success of others, each approach has a problem.
13
For the "social base" argument the fact that the Spanish and
SWedish social bases hive shrunk just as much11a, the German or
British blue-collar working class is The electoral
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success of these parties despite a shrinkage inlthieir traditional
constituency appears tJ lend support to the that parties
which adjust to socib-economic change will survive
electorally. However, decline of Labour and
l
kPD are not simply
"wrong policy choices" but are explicable only JitJ a reference to
the heterogenization ofltheir electorates and Jesulting splits
, th ' t' t I ' II b I th t '
W1 1n no JUs the Itrade un10n movements at e par 1es i
themselves over which electoral constituencies linJerests ought to
be shaping policy and 1985)
Both approaches ignore an important the intensity
and outcomes of intra-plrty conflicts over electbral strategies and
hoi t' , 1 d d II th ' , 1 I
poI 1CY c
,
01ces. Par 1es are not s1mp y epen ent on e1r SOC1a
bases. Neither are theJ capable of simply vote-maximizing
strategies since they not purely rational, ilectoral machines.
1
Rather, they consist! of individual players II iwll.o engage in a
' ,I · I
muIt1tude of 1ntra-party as as external calculations. The
, r I
' , h d , I d Ii h' . I I
ques
t
10n 1S: w 0 eternunes party strategy a.n,. po cy c o rces II
I I i
inside the political 'party? What are their Imajor political
interests and aims? wAiCh set of incentives rhey most likely
to respond to? Which I arena of interaction 1, the party or the
I :
I :
electoral arena - ar'e
I
they more interested in? How are these
groups affected by the lnstitutional their respective
parties?
I :
i 14
Nested Games Ii OrgJnizatioos and Intra-party Actors
George TSebeliSibroVided a powerful meanJ of analysing reasons
why parties sometibes opt for electoral
strategies. (TSebeJ ,11990) The "nested game+ approach stipulates
that political are complex organizations in which party
activists and poliliJlans interact and quite clash since
. I i \ , • l't' 1
t
, E h
they are by f or ac ac
I I I, f ,I t' . A t' . t
t ype 0 f actor responds to a set 0 rncen ves. c V1S S
are mostly with party policy: politicians are mostly
concerned with thel of the party as In electorally viable
l
, t' I ,I I d t' rt' th, d t ft·'
In emocra pa a ype 0 ac or
of great importanJe:, \ union members. (Koelble ,II 1987; 1991 ) Trade
, , I I I ., i f th '
um.orusns are most I .concerned th the representat on 0 ear
,,11 t I, '
I All groups, of course, IShare an In
winning elections siAce that is the means by which each group
' h I I, , t
l
th d t h' h
obtalns or opes to what wants, bu e egree 0 w
electoral victory by each group Each type of
t
'th' I II t . d ' I 't t' h
ac or an a pa1rtn hen s herself a ua aon were
calculations are structured not only by a given set of
interests but by such as Jompeting arenas (the
electoral versus lhstitutional) and the inJtitutional design of
1:1 I
the party. l
Social democrJtiJ parties contain blue-cbllar, White-collar,
professional and interests. They dontain professional
I
, t" . t \: I ,I
d
" I
po erest groups an from a I
of these diverse inh1erests. Electoral stJategieS and policy
15
I .
. I I
preferences vary according to which coaliti?nl of interests
I ' .' It I b th
dom1nates the party. Cons1derable d1sagreemen s i etween ese
, ' 'h 11,1 t
groups may eX1st, but the level to wh1ch t ese greemen s are
Ii)
1d1sa
carried into party policy and electoral depends on
I II I
l
institutional design of the party and the exte,nt to which each
l' l
. "I '1 d h' d d b
group perce1ves 1ts 1nterest as be1ng he pe or a.n ere y
I I: )
bringing the conflict ihside the party to bear its electoral
l
,I, , Lvsi t h I fl h t'
perf ormance. As TsebellJs notes an m s ana YS1S 0 e ques 10n w y
I II '
party activists in the' Labour Party commit "POlitiical suicide", 1
I I !
incentives for action ih Labour are structured Isuch a way asto
make confl ' t b
etween Pr11t1c1ans
, , ,
an
"t
on
1
y poSS1 e 1C
' d
act1v1s s!nq
t ' bl
but encourage them if the activists can find aWjY of building a
I '. I
coalition with trade unionists to enhance ipower resources
I I I I
over policy making and personnel decisions. (Tsebelis, 1990)
Electoral are less important activists who
play an internal than electoral game • Equally, party 1
l
I; I
leaders in the SPD have) an institutional incent11vei to ignore local
challengers as long as challengers do an exit option
in terms of a viable challenging party totbe left of the
I I I
SPD.(Koelble, 1991; Kitschelt, 1988) I I
1 I I
Institutions structure the way in which ,po]icy is made and
t 'b t d t I h'" II) l't' 1 rt'
power d
'
r1 u e hroughout t e 1nst1tut1on. II Pi 1 1ca pa 1es 1S
are organizations with'lldifferent forms of structure
. II I
and accordingly varied/ distributions of powerti Labour Party
exhibits a rather unusual organization in decision-making
power over policy, peJsonnel and finance is f'he hands of the
1 II
I I
I
16
I
trade union movement. (Minkin, 1978) As long as party leaders have
union support, thly 'Jre virtually immune from pressure of the party
activists or intra-party interests •. However, should they
fallout of favor! the majority of the hnion leadership they
have no other instlithlional protection. The JomPlete dependence of
Labour Party in both Parliament knd party was amply
demonstrated in leftist coup inJide Labour. (Kogan and
Kogan, 1982) leaders and leftist! activists formed a
l
' t ' ,1:1 If' 1 d t
coa 1 10n hapless Callaghan group 0 SOC1a emocra s
which was held for the austerit) programs of 1976 to
1 7 h
' h th I, ii" . til ( 't h d
9 9 w 1C e movement d1sl1ked 1n ense y. Gourev1 c an
Bornstein, 1984)
I
I
In stark contrast to Labour's OrganizaJional structure, the
\ I I 1
PSOE, SAP and SPO 'are far more centralized and hierarchical.
I i I I
Policy and personnel I appointments are made party leaders, not
, , I 1.1 , \ ' ,
sect.i.onat 1nterestgroups oucsi de of the party or act1v1sts •
,I ii,, t
However, the dom1nance of the party leaders over party act1v1s s
and union interestl riLs somewhat among these parties. The PSOE
, h t' d b l I, , ,I k . .
1S C arac er1ze y arelat1vely small base, a wea un10n
representation party and overwhelming centralized power
structure in which leaders dominate. (Me1kel, 1989) Both gPO
and SAP have a member",'lip with a sigtUcant union hase.
Party cah do leadersdiP oacisions
' '1 I, I, I l' I,
the1r 1nvo vement 1n the loca , reg10nal off1ces and, of course,
' h' I' 1 f
e represent a t
I 1,1
.in the 19
h
est po 1cy-ma
k'
1ng organs 0
th
some 10r
I
party. (Tilton, 1990;
I
Koelble, 1991)
1
I
17
Both SPO and SAP also parties with consijerable ties to
"I , II i 1 t '
the respectl.ve uruon movements. The organl.zat ona connec a.on
bet
' I. I: I. . t '
ween unl.on and party )l.S, however, nowhere nea!:a, l.ntl.ma e as l.n
the British case. In Germany federal law prohibits the explicit
I· I I
merging of political parties with interest groups such as unions.
The SPO has no officiall connection to the +though many of
its activists and leaders have union credentials. In Sweden, SAP I
'
and the um
'
on movement
I
are connected an
"I
a s mu,
:'11
ar way - um.on
l
leaders and activists also tend to be active the party. At
the local level, trade often form the and membership
of the party. However"at the national level the policy decision­
k i d I'd' t' II Itt' .
ma l.ng process oes no, l.nvolve l.rec unl.on a l.on as l.n
the Labour Party Annual I Conference. Policy decisions are taken by
I I I
party leaders and delegates, not trade union lead.erls. Both parties
I II
are hierarchies in which party leaders have a good deal of
I I II
decision-making power lat the expense of actifiists and interest
I I I
group representatives.
The PSOE, mostly as a result of its from spanish
politics during the Franco era, has only very l10sL organizational
1 II I
connections to the Spanish union movement. (Sha:t1 11988) While the
I i le, I
spanish union movementlwas instrumental in organ.iiing a local base
II I
l
for the PSOE in the 1 S
r
the unions and 'Iparty are quite
1970
I II
distinct entities • PSOE even al ienatedt>arlts of the union
, I! I
movement when it agreid to the "Moncloa pacti'l iJn which it gave
support to the conservative Suarez government to impose austerity
I . I
measures to enhance ecdnomic growth and the transition to
I I I
II!
I 1
I
18
a democratic regime in 1978 • (Share, 1988) The PSOE affords its
I I I I
leadership cadre !greatest degree of organizational independence
and policy makinJ Jdwers and provides relativelY little influence
to the party even less to its trade union constituency.
(Gillespie, 1988)\ \ I I
The crucial is that structure determines
,I \ \ , , dO' t
the degree to party leaders control an s
inside the partJ. I \ This degree of contrbl impacts strategic
thinking. Acti politici'ans and unionists agree that it is
, t t t . I i,l, "h ' It' t h 1 0
an 0 POI t e 0 s ape po
l
ill d
h
'
a
0'
to shape electora stra
t
egy an po
l'
T ose
't
0
maintain this whereas those out of I[ower hope to obtain
influence. The of the party shapes the opportunities by
which these aims If a player is "out" of power, she
faces the choice cooperating with thode in power to achieve
at least some of (i.e. limited vOicelof opposition) or to
challenge those in (loud voicing of OPPoLition and the threat
of exit). For Party activists willlng to challenge tne
social democratic an opportunity aroJe in 1979 to build a
coalition with hnion interests who had It he power to replace
I I I
1 I 1 I
the "old guard". Such an opportunity does not exist for PSOE, SAP
i
or SPO e.ctivists wbo lfind themselves in a Pokition where, to get
1
0k
, III t'

°th 1
ea
d I

1
y
t
0
0
some aoopera party ers most e
\ i I I
win them concessioms unless they are able to swamp the party with
' 't' \ \ 0 \ , 0
new act avi s s an numbers to take over the
, t' f i I . \ 0 0
l.on rom the bottom upwards. strategy as to
19
I
succeed since it not only involves the mobilization of many new
'I
I
I
I
., 'th th
me
mb
ers
b
ut also a grjat deal of protracte
d
Vl.sm Wl. e
intention of changing personnel and policy.(Koelble, 1991)
I I: I
Most party activists dOl not have the patience such a longterm
I I I I
, I I
I I I
strategy.
Nested Games II; Preferences« Electoral strategies and Policy
II I
Choice
II
For party activists, trade unionists and politicians policy
I II
priorities vary. They share, as Mayhew suggests, a desire to
I ! I I
win elections and enact 1 900d policy. (Mayhew, 1974 ) IThey agree that
1
1
the external mission of a party is to win powejlbit they disagree
l
over the extent to which winning elections ought to be placed over
I I I
the other important variable; good policy. Further, they differ
· . t . fl d 1 . d d . I! h . h t f I
over the de f a.m, a.on 0 goo po a.cy epen l.ng I upon w l.C se 0 I
I I: I
preferences and interests they represent. II i
Assuming that p!rty politicians or want to win
I I II
elections and make good policy (in that order of preferences) then
l
iiiI
it is possible to argueI that politicians are mos. t. likely to choose
I I
I I I
the "government partyllrstrategy. It is indeellsiriking that the
party leaders in each 0lf our cases were most inc.lined towards that
I: I
strategy. In the the party leadershif i lroup of Vogel,
Lafontaine, Rau even Brandt favored such a strategy. In the SAP,
I I! I
Palme and Erlander; in the PSOE, Guerra and GO.nzales; in Labour
l
I: I
Hattersley and KinnOCj (eventually) favored II a combination of I
policies aimed at as broad an electoral constifuency as possible.
I ,: I
There are, of course, examples of leadership figures who did not or
I II
I II
I I
I I:
20
do not agree wi hsuch a strategy, but these politicians have
committed to representing not thJ electoral aims of the
party but the interests of eitheJ a group of activists
, I I I f ft" ) ,
Tony Benn as
i
'spokesperson for Labour's 'new Ie or
interests. II brueial intra-party vaJiable is in how far T+
t
' 't d i,! I . t t bl It block or h;nder
ao an eres s are a eo.
,
po1 ' t .i "c i.ans f rom ad!op It' such a s t rat egy 'f' t does not favor j
I i
their policy pre eriJnces and tangible interests.
II . ii, h· th t')
While the JaiJulations for politiciabs are predominantly
affected by the electoral arena on 0 er par ,
party activists t,nd1to be more affected by oJganizational factors.
Activists vOluntleJ \ their time to the paJty for a variety of
I
, i I
reasons. Either plan to become politicians themselves, in

h th II '1 1 I d hi d ., ,
wh
'
case ey most y to support ea ers
\ \ I
order to be rewarded by those in power, or
I,
they are there for
policy reasons. Jf they again face the pJoblem of getting what
I I I
they want - cooper,ate
i
with the leaders or oppose and challenge. If
opposition is a strategy then aetiFists have to map out
a strategy of how so without being It is diff ieult
to challenge the JstWblished elite in hierardhical parties such as
SPO, PSOE and sJ Jlthout a great deal of linternal turmoil and
I I I .
retaliation. In
\
dominated parties, activists are more
likely to try and Ico'dperate with those in than to challenge
them. Activists to have support from lhe unions for their
'f h I i I I ,
po1
"
t ey hope' to successfully challenge the party te.
t
1 f d 't' .
The s t ra
,I II
cu
l'
atn.ons 0
t
ra e uru.cna
I ,
s s an soci a
1
21
I
democratic parties il complicated by loyalties to their
, I i I
organization. Trade unionists may share both internal and external
missions of activists alnd/or politicians, but also concerned 'II
I II
with the fate of the unions preferences and A trade
l
i t " . 1 t i 11 t' t .
unionist not onl y par Lc i paties an e ec ora compe l. a.on
I I i I
calculations, intra-party strategic calculations. but also in a set
i I r
of intra-union, interrunion and I relations and
conflicts. As DunleaVYI and Husbands in the srifisb case and Kern
and Schumann in the German case show, union are highly
I I i I
fragmented and heterogeneous. (Dunleavy and Husbandsl, 1985: Kern and
I II I
Schumann, 1984) Uuionists representing workers in declining
industries exhibit a different view of the of the state,
I ;
the political party and the union ithan unionists
representing blue or collar workers in highly competitive and
I II
well-paying sectors.
I II
Returning to table 1, unions in declini.ng or endangered
I I i l
industrial sectors are
l
most likely to prefer
i
i a "socialist" or I
"workerist" strategy protect the jobs and lib.enefits of their
I ' I
workers. It is not that the National
l
of Miners in
I'
Britain, for instance,
I
Icalled for a radicalization
I
of the Labour
Party. Arthur scargillil supported the radical lin Labour in its
I' I
battle with the social I democrats. While not union becomes
"workerist" or inclinid towards "socialism" its industries I
decline, they are mostllikel
Y
to favor protecriio
n
of both their
. d t d h i I . .
an us ryan t e WOrjfOrCe and, above "': i
I
tihel.r own um.on
organization. (Golden, 1r90) Extending welfarisTibenefits is likely
I
!
I
,I
II 22
" I
to be one of their maJor priorities.
Unions white-collar and those acting on
behalf of an competitive and 'lhighlY paid workforce
,J:I , I, , d d
are f ar 1ess 11.kely to support protect1.on1.sm or an ee wage
equalization and HusbJnds, Esping­ 1985;
'I : I, " I, t 1
Andersen, 1985 ) Worker1.st or soc1.al1.st strateg1.es are no a ways
, th Lnt; I U I , 1 'k 1
l.n e l.n erests of such a workforce. Such un1.ons are more 1. e y
I I' I
to support policieb to increase comp1titiveness, to reduce
tax burdens on workers, to encoJrage adjustment to
l nt; t' 1 d
l
, 1,1 d I) h uni
l.n erna 1.0na con l1.tl.ons.(Kern an Schumann, 1984 Suc un1.ons are
I
, I 'i Ii, b th
a 1so more l.kely' to support a strategy of adJustment y e
political party \attract other social and maintain
' 1', , J th S d' h I"
e 1ect ora1 The between e we loS
blue-collar union: the LO, anb some white collar
, I I
workers organized in'lthe Teo over the wage-earner funds is a good
example of this tybeihf intra-union 1987) The
I
'I I
l.cy
f "th'
l
ese arge poI
,
pre erences 0
! f'
some uru.ons W1. an
th t
wo
1
uru
'
on
I i I I
organizations are lit', lidS over such issues concerning
working class and strategies. I
Not all unionls into one category the other as neatly
I i I I
as the researcher Imight hope. The German metalworkers union (IG
Metall) or the miners (NUM), for inltance, contain both
I: I
d 1" I, f' I
work ers an
·
compe
t"
1.1t': love
,
and ec l.n1.ng an
l nd
or l.rms.
Th
ese
I I 'I
unions sUffer from internal dissention oV$r suitable policy. I
, ,I I
Further, there are \a of factors which may lead unions not to
'I 'I '\
advocate policies faJorable to the international position of their
i
23
I
industries. For instance, one can imagine a situation where an
I II I
industry is doing poorll
Y
but has succeeded ill ,lOSing out the
unions from organizing I the workforce. In such et scenario, the
't t t' II, It' t f
un10n may no share the concerns and pro ec 10n1st sen 1men s 0
I I i
l
the owners. AlternatiVejY' unions in competitiveltniustries may not
share free trade preferjnCes if they are to lead to the
weakening of the union. The survival of the union as an
, " I, ,II d
l
" th
organ1zat10n 1S the most 1mportant var1able eterm1n1ng e
I I! I
calculations of trade union activists and leaders. (Golden, 1988)
I II
Nevertheless, unions dOl tend to support either economic policy
geared towards interna1tional competitivenesslir lone aiming at
protectionism and the control of markets and Unions
' , . 1" ,lid' .
represen
t
1ng blue-collar workers 1n dec 1n1ng istr1es are more
likely to support a IIwoikeristtt or even policy strategy
than unions representing professionals, white workers and
' t't' I, d t .
wor
k
ers an compe 1 1ve
1n
us r i.ee , II 1
Intra-party Coalition ,Uildin
g
I! I
The policy ChOiies and electoral strjrejieS of social
democratic parties reflect the dominance of diverse intra-party
I II I
coalitions. The oscillation of policy from slicilalism to social
democracy to the government party strategy in the PSOE' s case
I I I
reflects the sense of I uncertainty among the F,ai
Y
leaders asto
which policy direction might work in a newly established democracy.
While party strate
9isFs
needed time to Ian appropriate
strategy, the absence of an intra-party blue-collar interest group
allowed the party to adopt the vote-Jaxlmizing strategy
II I
I
I
I 24
relatively qUiCkl!y And unencumbered. Once it became clear that
conservative and parties had not capJured the middle class
I I, I I
vote, the PSOE: quite rationally went a'ifter this electoral
: I
constituency with,
I
quite to the blue-collar
workers and 1988) I
The Labour on the other hand, addpted policies favored
by unions workers in declining ihdustries after 1979.
I "I • , t d th I d . C
In Labour blue-collar
I
e e Tra e ongress
II
I
I I:
(TUC) and the Labour Party Annual Conference. Only after two
I :1 I
massive electoral I defeats has the party a policy package
I II 'I. h
favoz:able of grouPls than blue-collar workers. t e
shift is also eXPlicJble by a shift within union movement away
from blue-collar The TUC has lost 4 million members
since 1979 most of were blue-collar. iThe dominance of the
blue-collar unions iJ fading in the TUC and, ,thereby, in Labour.
I I, I 'I
The SPO and I SAP cases are somewhat less clear cut. Both
I ' . I I, d d l . t
part enJoy the support of the broa er tra e movemen. In
both parties, bluJ-ddllar interests are represented. The
Swedish LO, the union has for decades
deci s i . filii l' (. It! ). . 1 1
been a uence on SAP po on, 1990 ar y,
blue-collar are strongly within the German
trade union federktibn (OGB). (Markovits, In contrast to
Sweden, however, is no union associatld specifically with
I
' :
':
I •
I
I • d 1 •
blue-co11ar s rnce German una.ons .are ozqanaae a ong
I '
sectoral or lines. How then can
I
explain the absence
of significant opJ,oslJtion to the new policy 'lin Sweden eventhough
25
· I
there is a significanf blue-collar presence li1 the SAP and
relatively strong in Germany where apparently,
no specific blue-collar organization within the I SPO? I
,II I
The puzzle can be solved by a brief "analysis of the
III
development within the unions and the relationship between unions
I . f II I t I' f
and party. Although the LO may have 1n luenced par y po 1Cy or
I!I
some time, it does notl dominate the party LO is an
interest group increaSirglY challenged by sluch as the Teo,
representative of whiteTcollar workers, for influence upon the SAP
leadership. A shift towards pUblic and white
collar unions has taken place in the Swedish union movement,
wea
ken
en1ng
i
t
h
e LO. Iron1cally, the LO
h
as
b I!
a
1
ut
th' h' ft . !
rought 00 1S s 1
with its strong support! of extending the PUbliclfeJtor and thereby
the growth of pubH,c secror, White-collar eJsPing-Andersen.
, I
1990) I II
More important, however, is the policy orientation of the LO
I I! I
concerning the interests of declining their workers.
The LO committed to economic and designed an
to discourage the al of declining (Martin, 1984)
II
The defense of declinin
r
industries is not a parfiCUlarlY important
item on the LO's agenda: the securing of to workers
..' . II I h
a ff ect e d by decl i.ne 1S paramount. (M1lner, 1989)1 I T!hrough a ost of
I I I
educational, social and economic policies the Itransition from
industrial decline to is accelerated
, I! I
by SAP policy. (steinmo'l 1989) The blue-collar Iiector in Sweden is
less committed to defending declining industrial interests or wage
I I
,
26
I I .
solidarity than collar unions. I
In the SPO, l of pr9dominantly blue-collar industrial
unions formed parl bk the coalition Helmut Schmidt as
. I : I I, 'd l' ,
chance11or dUrl.ng: t,ge 1970' s , Blue-collar I um.ons an ec l.nl.ng
industries do not ddminate the SPO, but through their power in
unions such as
1
energy, mineworkersl, construction and I
metalworkers have been able tol resist party policy
changes unfavorablr their industries. on 'the issue
of environmental policy, union representatives from these unions
I I I
were instrumental \ blocking attempts·to retain the Green vote in
: ' ,
the party duringI 1970's and recaptuJing it with policy
• , I ': I I
conceasrcns an the: early 1980's. The blue-col1l.ar sector prolonqued
I ' I
't 'fl ,:. I ,I
l. S an uence an rthe SPO through l.ts supporrt for Johannes Rau,
minister presidenJ df North-Rhine westPhalia
l
(and SPO chancellor
, : I
candidate in 1987) I, the heartland of declining industries. It has
only recently of its influence Withih the party hierarchy
II I I
after the electoral defeats of 1983 and 1987.
I n 11 part l.es,
l II, bIll'
ar l.nterests
I
have
d
ec
I'
ane
d
an
'
a ue-co
't I ! I ,I .
l.mpor ance. HoWeViter,1 the more establl.shed blue-collar l.nterests
I ' I
representing industrial interests
l
were within these
I I '
parties, the moreld{fficult the transition a vote-maximizing
II : I
strategy was for the Iparty concerned. The absence of a powerful
I I r :
blue-collar in the PSOE leadetship cadre explains
I I I I
the party's very rapid' adoption of the "government party" strategy.
The dominance of interests in industrial
sectors in Labour the party's difficulties,
" , t' 1:1 t' b t 27
part 1cularly S1nce 197,. The organ1za 10na sepera 10n e ween
blue-collar unions and white collar interests, la,s commitment
I I i I
to discourage declining tndustries and foster winners as
well as the rapid growth of white collar sectors !anld incorporation
l
of former blue-collar into this sector!.in Sweden explain
. I I I l
the SAP's ability to adapt relatively smoothly. IThe organizational
entrenchment of blue-c+lar interests until [recently in the
SPO leadership cadre help us understand why th.e ISPO had such a
I I !
difficult transition flrom social democracy tlo the "government
I I! I
party" strategy. In the SPO's case the addition of East German I·
I ! !
blue-collar workers inl crisis may indicate al i further round of
I ! I I
adaptation problems since it is likely that I East German
, :1. I
economic crisis will adV' ersely affect the blue-collar sectors in a
I II I
united Germany. I
S ConcI US10ns: Qrgan1zat10ns an
h '
ome
, I" d
C 01ces I
!
This article utilizes a novel approach in comparative
I II
politics, the nested games thesis. It represents pnly a first and
I II !
tentative step in an attempt to analyse intra-party politics in a
, I I I
much more rigorous and formal manner. The alrgument holds that
I II I
social democratic partfes are searching for ai njw political and
electoral strategy and Ithat the ability of IIconi,erativell elements
(in this case unions workers in declining industries
I II I
. . I
which do not want to Isee a shift away from I frjdi tional aocLa l
democratic or even socialist policies) is an variable in
I I '
I I I
explaining why some parties adopt a vote-maximizing strategy
Lckl h th!' , , I I, f I. t d ' t t
qua,c Y w ereas 0 er part1es experaence s1gn1 a.can a JUS men
II
i
I 28
I
I
problems. The atiili:ty of such conservative groups is defined by
the OrganizationJ,l IJtructures of the party \and the relationship
. between (particularly 6niOnS) and the party
ea h
' \
mo.re offl.ce-seekl.ng
I l't"
con
1
1 ders ap , The
ii, ,
party po l. a.ci ans
t
ro
electoral JAd policy decisions, the Imor e likely the party
t d t I i.\ I, fl o 0 , , 0
l.S 0 a op strategl.es. The more l.n uence unl.ons
' d 1] .i I'd '1 h I "thO t th
represent l.ng ec l.nl.ng l.n ustrl.a sectors Wl. l.n a par y e
more difficult th1e iJarty's transition to tJe "government party"
strategy. A I word of warning: raPib adjustment to new
electoral Idoes not guarantee elecJral victory. The SAP
and PSOE face stiff tests (partialli due to the defection
of groups that as a result of thLir vote-maximization
') hill " be d ' 0 ·1
s t rat egy. l.n t e pext set of electl.ons whl.le La ur an SPD may l.n
! I I
fact recover from the abysmal performances of the 1980's.
The article qualifies Olson's largument concerning
organizational (Olson, 1982) mhle the Labour case
appears to point that too lmany interest groups
"clog up" adjustment, the case shows that if
organizations I to changing then they remain
t
' t ' h \ lid
s
h'
l.ft by a
1
1
I
partl.es to a vote­ compe l. ave , Te, gra ual
,
I I \. \
maximizing strateq¥ also suggests that parties do learn from past
errors and adjUstJ if that process is la painfUl one. The
article also SUggJstW that while Downs may vindicated through
the eventual adaptJt{ln of all four parties, the divergent paths to
'" i It'd' . I "
a vot e-maxl.ml.zl.ng ou come are an l.catl.ve that ratl.onall. ty for
political parties lis! not merely a question 6f winning votes but
. 29
.. I . t dth I db
a I so of competl.ng l.nternal l.nteres s an games p aye y
I I
politicians, activists unionists.
I . I
I
Bibliography
I I
I II I
Butler, David and Donald Stokes, Political Change in Britain,
London, Macmillan, 1969,. I I i
I ,
I
I' I
Crewe, Ivor, "The Decld.ne of Labor and the Decline of Labour",
Paper presented at the American Political ScieQce Association
Meeting, San Francisco,! August 1990. I I 1
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