French Politics

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 121–143 | Cite as

Evolution of New Parties: From Electoral Outsiders to Downsian Players — Evidence from the French Greens

  • Jae-Jae Spoon


This paper challenges the conventional wisdom about New Left parties in Europe. I show that institutional context influences party behavior by analyzing the strategic decisions of the French Green Party, Les Verts, from 1997 to 2002. I demonstrate that in order for the Greens to compete with the larger, more established, parties, they must recognize the demands of the institutional context and act accordingly. In doing so, they have become a Downsian party, whose goal is winning seats in parliament. Two implications of this study are that these decisions have important consequences both for the outcome of the pending election and for the future of the party as a viable competitor in the French political space. Importantly, the findings can be more generally applied to understanding new party behavior across Europe.


electoral systems pre-election alliances Les Verts new parties party change party strategy 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jae-Jae Spoon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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