The Formation of National Party Systems in Europe: A Comparative-Historical Analysis


* Daniele Caramani, Department of Political Science and International Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. E-mail:


Using a large wealth of newly collected and unexplored data on single constituencies in 17 European countries, this comparative and long-term analysis describes the territoriality of electoral participation and vote for political parties, as well as their evolution since the mid- nineteenth century until the present day from highly territorialized politics to nationwide functional alignments. The article provides an empirical analysis through time, across countries and between party families. Through the inclusion of all the most important social and political cleavages (class, state–church, rural–urban, ethno-linguistic, and religious) the analysis assesses the homogenizing impact of the left–right dimension that emerged from the National and Industrial Revolutions, and the resistance of pre-industrial cultural and centre–periphery factors to national integration.