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Catherine De Vries
Catherine De Vries, speaker at the Jörgen Westerståhl Lecture 2020.

Jörgen Westerståhl Lecture 2020

Society and economy

Welcome to the Jörgen Westerståhl Lecture with Catherine De Vries, Professor of political science at the Bocconi University, Italy. The title of the lecture is "Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe".

17 Dec 2020
13:15 - 15:00
Registration deadline
15 December 2020

Lecturer: Catherine De Vries, Professor of political science, Bocconi University.
Introductory speaker: Jon Pierre, Professor of political science, University of Gothenburg.
Good to know
The lecture will be hold in English online on Zoom.

The zoom link will be distributed to registered participants the day before.
The Department of Political Science


Are you interested to attend this lecture please email:

Abstract: Political Entrepreneurs: The Rise of Challenger Parties in Europe

Challenger parties are on the rise in Europe, exemplified by the likes of Podemos in Spain, the National Rally in France, the Alternative for Germany, or the Brexit Party in Great Britain. Like disruptive entrepreneurs, these parties offer new policies and defy the dominance of established party brands. In the face of these challenges and a more volatile electorate, mainstream parties are losing their grip on power. In this talk, I will explore why some challenger parties are so successful and what mainstream parties can do to confront these political entrepreneurs. Drawing analogies with how firms compete, I will demonstrate that political change is as much about the ability of challenger parties to innovate as it is about the inability of dominant parties to respond. Challenger parties employ two types of innovation to break established party dominance: they mobilize new issues, such as immigration, the environment, and Euroscepticism, and they employ antiestablishment rhetoric to undermine mainstream party appeal. Unencumbered by government experience, challenger parties adapt more quickly to shifting voter tastes and harness voter disenchantment. Delving into strategies of dominance versus innovation, the Lecture will discuss why European party systems have remained stable for decades, but also why they are now increasingly under strain.