Political parties are key players in politics. Research of GASPAR is focused on both party ideology and party organization. Regarding the former, we focus on content and effects of party ideologies, as well as on changes in ideologies. Regarding the latter, we study organisational change (including professionalisation, europeanisation and democratisation) and the roles and attitudes of party members. In both research areas, parties are studied both in themselves and within the broader institutional framework in which they operate (with a particular focus on multilevel governance).
Key words: election manifestos, ideology, party membership surveys, leadership primaries, party change, party staff, party structures, professionalisation, europeanisation, democratisation
Political representation refers to acting in the name of people who are literally not present. Firstly, we look at representation by politicians. Taking into account the role of parties in the recruitment and selection of political personnel, we analyse how electoral processes and voting behavior influence the composition of parliaments. Secondly, we are interested in representation by political parties. More in particular, the entry and exit of parties and the saturation of party systems are studied. Thirdly, also parliamentary behavior is a core research theme: both explanations and consequences of this behaviour are investigated. Finally, GASPAR has a long tradition of research on trade unions, and focusses now on the influence of old and new interest groups on parties. All representation processes are studied both as such and with a special focus on underrepresented social groups (women, ethnic minorities, working class, etc.).
Key words: socialization, preferential voting, voter bias, party bias, party systems, parliamentary roles, state-society relations
To study these topics, we use both quantitative (surveys, experiments, text analyses and social network analyses) and qualitative (interviews) methods. We study these phenomena both in Belgium and in international comparative perspective.