To cite the article:
Vincenzo Emanuele & Federico Trastulli (2023) Squeezing Blood from a Turnip? The Resilience of Social Democratic Governmental Power in Western Europe (1871–2022), Representation, DOI: 10.1080/00344893.2023.2292174
The article can be accessed here, first 50 copies free of charge.
In recent years, a growing body of literature has revived its interest in social democratic parties, emphasising their allegedly irreversible crisis in Western Europe. However, all such accounts focus solely on electoral results, thus neglecting governmental power, the decisive factor to realise social democratic parties’ policy goals. To address this gap, the article tests whether the decline of social democracy is confirmed in terms of governmental power, for which an index that remedies the limitations of existing measures is employed. Through comparative longitudinal analysis on 20 Western European countries and more than 600 legislatures between 1871 and 2022, the article finds that the governmental power of social democracy has remained fundamentally the same as in the golden age of class politics. In particular, in contexts of high party system fragmentation and strong radical left competition, social democratic parties have still managed to secure relevant government positions despite their declining electoral performance.