Beyond the Cartel: The Fall and Rise of Pro-Equality Political Parties?

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.3.02 (Tower One)
Jonathan Hopkin, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
Rising inequality in advanced democracies is increasingly being studied as a political as well as an economic phenomenon. Explanations based on changes to the international economy, technological change and its effects on skills, and demographic trends, being joined by a growing concern for inequalities of political influence and their effects on the income distribution. This paper develops an account of the changes in partisan support for pro-equality policies in terms of the organizational, electoral and ideational environment in which parties operate, drawn from a reconceptualization of Katz and Mair’s cartel party thesis. It shows how this party cartel is a fundamental piece in the puzzle of explaining the decline of redistribution and pro-equality policies and institutions, and assesses the weaknesses of the cartel and openings for a return of decisively egalitarian political forces in the current crisis. The paper draws on both quantitative and case study evidence from the rich democracies, with a particular focus on the UK, the US and Southern Europe.