New Book: The Rise of Entrepreneurial Parties in European Politics

7 May 2020

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Vít Hloušek, Lubomír Kopeček a Petra Vodová published a new book on entrepreneurial parties in European politics.​

Political parties run by entrepreneurs as a means to their own end are a recent phenomenon found in many countries, and their electoral influence has never been greater. This book offers a thorough comparative analysis of such ‘business-firm’ and sometimes oddly memberless parties in Western and East-Central Europe, assessing the considerable corpus of literature on the growing band of political entrepreneurs. The book clearly separates such party enterprises from other, more traditional, political platforms as it contributes to our understanding of the potential of entrepreneurial parties. The authors offer a unique typology based on two characteristics: whether the party receives private financial, media or other investment; and the nature of its membership and territorial structure. Famous examples of entrepreneurial parties, including Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom, alongside their lesser-known counterparts, serve in this book as valuable material for conceptual innovation and the investigation into why certain entrepreneurial party types succeed or fail.

“Among the most striking developments in European party politics in recent times has been the emergence of what Vít Hloušek and his co-authors label ‘entrepreneurial’ parties. Drawing on examples from across the European continent, the authors chart the rise, fall and occasional endurance of entrepreneurial parties, highlighting their internal structures, sources of finance and pitches to the electorate. This is a pioneering study furnished with fascinating insights and detailed analysis from which scholars and students of political parties will learn a lot.”

Tim Haughton, University of Birmingham, UK

“This is a pioneering study which brings a comparative typology to bear on an important and under-explored set of parties hitherto mainly researched as individual case studies. It is also especially to be commended for bringing together parties from both Western and Eastern Europe in a single coherent analytical framework, and for unravelling the difficult distinction between parties founded by businesses and businesspeople and a broader set of top-down start-up parties created with a looser ‘entrepreneurial’ rationale. The book will be essential reading for anyone wanting to get to grips with some of the more recent shifts in the landscape of party politics in contemporary Europe and their consequences for democratic politics.”

Seán Hanley, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London, UK

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