The electoral consequences of the financial and economic crisis in Europe

Enrique Hernández*, Hanspeter Kriesi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

259 Citations (Scopus)


The electoral consequences of the Great Recession are analysed in this article by combining insights from economic voting theories and the literature on party system change. Taking cues from these two theoretical perspectives, the impact of the Great Recession on the stability and change of Western, Central and Eastern European party systems is assessed. The article starts from the premise that, in order to fully assess the impact of the contemporary crisis, classic economic voting hypotheses focused on incumbent parties need to be combined with accounts of long-term party system change provided by realignment and dealignment theories. The empirical analysis draws on an original dataset of election results and economic and political indicators in 30 European democracies. The results indicate that during the Great Recession economic strain was associated with sizable losses for incumbent parties and an increasing destabilisation of Western European party systems, while its impact was significantly weaker in Central and Eastern European countries, where political rather than economic failures appeared to be more relevant. In line with the realignment perspective, the results also reveal that in Western Europe populist radical right, radical left and non-mainstream parties benefited the most from the economic hardship, while support for mainstream parties decreased further.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)203-224
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Economic voting
  • Great Recession
  • Party systems
  • Realignment


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