How do today's political parties relate to other organisations? Do they prefer rather distant relationships with a wide range of interest groups – or have they virtually detached themselves from civil society altogether? Scholars seem to agree that traditionally close relationships – such as those between social democratic parties and trade unions – have grown weaker since the 1960s. But to date only limited systematic research has been conducted. While parties and interest groups attract a great deal of attention from political scientists, the links between them have been largely overlooked. This book is an attempt to bridge the gap, starting from the party side of the relationship. It throws new light on the topic by presenting a theory-driven, comprehensive study of Norway's seven major political parties and their relationships with interest groups at the beginning of the new millennium. Based on original and extensive data, including party documents, in-depth interviews with key players and a survey of national party elites, Elin Haugsgjerd Allern paints a nuanced picture of the nature and significance of these relationships and the factors that shape them. A major conclusion is that Norway's parties tend to maintain rather distant but wide-ranging relationships with interest groups today. However, some parties still have fairly strong links with their traditional associates and a narrower network of links with other groups. Hence, Allern also shows that significant differences exist between parties that are apparently exposed to the same social, political and institutional environment.
List of Figures and Tables vi
List of Abbreviations ix
PART ONE – GENERAL INTRODUCTION 1
Chapter One: Political Parties, Interest Groups and Democracy 3
Chapter Two: The Universe of Political Parties and Interest Groups in Norway 17
PART TWO – FRAMEWORK OF ANALYSIS 31
Chapter Three: Parties and Interest Groups: Overlooked Relations of Democracy? 33
Chapter Four: The Nature of Party Relationships with Interest Groups 55
Chapter Five: What Factors Shape Party Relationships with Interest Groups? 77
Chapter Six: The Case of Norway 107
PART THREE – PARTY RELATIONSHIPS WITH INTEREST GROUPS:
COMPARING CHARACTERISTICS 125
Chapter Seven: The Labour Party: Seeking Wide Network Yet Closeness to
Trade Unions 127
Chapter Eight: The Conservatives: Network of Weak Links with Business Profi le? 149
Chapter Nine: The Liberals: Towards General Separation from Interest Groups? 163
Chapter Ten: The Centre Party: Approaching a Wide Network of Organised Links 171
Chapter Eleven: The Christian People’s Party: Organised Network with Religious
Profi le 183
Chapter Twelve: The Socialist Left Party: Towards Wide-Ranging,
Organised Links 197
Chapter Thirteen: The Progress Party: The Rise of a Networking Populist Right 211
Chapter Fourteen: Contemporary Relationships: A Comparative Analysis 225
PART FOUR – PATTERNS OF PARTY RELATIONSHIPS:
POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND SHAPING FACTORS 245
Chapter Fifteen: Political Signifi cance of Relationships with Interest Groups 247
Chapter Sixteen: Variations in Relationships: An Explanatory Analysis 269
PART FIVE – CONCLUSION 309
Chapter Seventeen: Political Parties and Interest Groups: Between Separation and
Political parties are expected to serve as agencies of interest aggregation, but in this important book Elin Haugsgjerd Allern shows that even in Norway, always viewed as one of the world’s strongest democracies, the links between parties and interest groups are fraying. Theoretically and empirically strong, Political Parties and Interest Groups in Norway successfully tackles a key question for all those interested in parties, groups, and the fate of democratic government.
Given that so much of our thinking about political parties revolves around their social anchorage it is surprising how little we actually know about the way parties link to society. This landmark study by Elin Haugsgjerd Allern on the relationship between parties and interest groups in Norway represents an important step toward filling this lacuna in our knowledge – empirically and methodologically. It reminds us that empirical reality is far more diverse than general theories make us believe. Norwegian parties maintain diverse and multifaceted links to societal organizations, and they differ substantially.
This timely book provides a valuable theoretical and empirical examination of the changing relationships between political parties and different types of interest groups. The book’s investigation of experiences in Norway illuminates developments in a country with traditionally tight party-interest group links. The methods and framework developed in this study should be of interest to all scholars who are concerned with tracing the evolving links between political parties and society.
This book is the most comprehensive study of linkages between political parties and interest groups in Norway. But it is also more than that. The empirical analysis is embedded in the political science literature on theoretical perspectives and comparative empirical analysis on democracy, parties and interest groups. Together with the study's methodology, this book is therefore highly relevant to the study party-interest group relationships generally.
Elin Haugsgjerd Allern is postdoctoral fellow in political science at the University of Oslo, Norway. Previously she was senior research fellow at the Institute for Social Research, Oslo. Her research interests include party organisations, the relationship between parties and interest groups, and political parties and multi-level government. Allern's doctoral thesis was shortlisted for the ECPR's Jean Blondel PhD Prize 2008. Her work has appeared in several journals and edited volumes, including Acta Politica, European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics, and Political Parties and Democracy: Europe .