Party People: Candidates and Party Evolution

Monday 12 February 2024 (15:30-17:00)
Book cover for Party People
  • CEDAR seminar in conjunction with the REPRESENT network 
  • Speakers: Allan Sikk (UCL-SSEES) and Philipp Köker (Leibniz University Hannover)
  • Discussant: Tim Haughton 
  • Convenor and Chair: Licia Cianetti 

Allan Sikk and Philipp Koker will be discussing their new book Party People: Candidates and Party Evolution (OUP, 2024) with Tim Haughton, author of The New Party Challenge (OUP 2021). Political parties are nothing without their people and candidates are essential to parties' core functions - contesting elections, filling political offices, and shaping policy. Candidates are the literal 'face' of parties, yet they are not wedded to them permanently: candidates can enter or leave politics, switch parties, move along or stay behind when parties split or merge. Even in parties that look stable, candidate change happens below the surface, ultimately altering what the parties stand for. Inspired by evolutionary theories, Party People conceptualizes candidates as 'party genes' and develops a candidate-based approach to party evolution. Tracking candidates between elections and parties opens up new perspectives on party development in complex and dynamic settings in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and beyond. Based on a new database of 200,000 electoral candidates from over 60 elections across nine CEE democracies, this book presents a groundbreaking study of party evolution using candidate change as an indicator of party change. Allan Sikk and Philipp Köker offer a series of methodological and conceptual advances for the measurement of candidate turnover, party fission and fusion, programmatic change, and party leadership change; the resulting analyses make a significant contribution to the study of CEE party politics as well as to the general scholarship on elections, parties, and political change.