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When Parties Prosper: The Uses of Electoral Success

Kay Lawson and Peter H. Merkl, editors
When Parties Prosper: The Uses of Electoral Success
ISBN: 978-1-58826-534-0
ISBN: 978-1-58826-510-4
2007/431 pages/LC: 2007002451

“Every chapter is methodologically grounded, and provides in-depth analysis of parties and rich descriptions that enhance further research.... The clear and sharp style, good analytical tools and wealth of information make When Parties Prosper a valuable resource and framework for further analysis in party politics.”—Sergiu Ghergina, Political Studies Review

"An important and unusual book.... This is a major contribution to the study of parties and party systems."—William Crotty, Northeastern University


Have parties, and party systems, come back to life in the twenty-first century? Are they capable of playing their roles in ways that will foster rather than betray the public interest? These are among the questions explored in When Parties Prosper, a richly comparative, up-to-date, and accessible study of political parties in power in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Each country study in the book reviews the country's political history, describes its present party system, provides a detailed study of the one or two most powerful parties in the system, and evaluates the impact the parties have on government efficacy, stability, and democratic legitimacy. Two broadly comparative chapters highlight differences and similarities across the countries. Following a common structure, the authors offer answers to their core questions—but they are answers that are sure to stimulate discussion, disagreement, and reassessment.


Kay Lawson is professor emerita of political science at San Francisco State University. She is author of numerous books and articles on political parties, including When Parties Fail: Emerging Alternative Organizations, coedited with Peter H. Merkl, and her textbook The Human Polity: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science is now in its fifth edition. Peter H. Merkl is professor emeritus of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Among his recent publications are Rightwing Extremism in the Twenty-first Century and The Rift Between America and the Old Europe: The Distracted Eagle.


  • Political Parties in the 21st Century—the Editors.
  • Britain's New Labour Party: Prospering in an Antiparty Climate—D. McKay.
  • Sweden: Still a Stable Party System?—T. Möller.
  • European Social Democracy: Failing Successfully—W.E. Paterson and J. Sloam.
  • Poland's Democratic Left Alliance: Beyond Postcommunist Succession—H. Kubiak.
  • The Lithuanian Social Democrats: A Prosperous Postcommunist Party—A. Krupavicius.
  • The Uruguayan Party System: Transition Within Transition—J. Lanzaro.
  • Germany's Christian Democrats: Survivors in a Secular Society—F. Bösch.
  • Japan: Why Parties Fail, Yet Survive—H. Fukui.
  • Russia's Political Parties: Deep in the Shadow of the President—A. Kulik.
  • Mexico: Helping the Opposition Prosper—M. A. Martinez.
  • Israel's Shas: Party Prosperity and Dubious Democracy—Y. Yishai.
  • Chile': From Individual Politics to Party Militancy—A. Joignant and P. Navia.
  • Italy: A Tale of Two Parties—G. Pasquino.
  • France: Antisystem vs. Government Parties—F. Haegel and M. Lazar.
  • The US Two-Party System: Using Power to Prosper—R. Kolodny.
  • Becoming the Party of Government—P. H. Merkl.
  • When Parties Dedemocratize—K. Lawson.