Handbook of Territorial Politics
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Handbook of Territorial Politics

Edited by Klaus Detterbeck and Eve Hepburn

The study of territorial politics has enjoyed a renaissance in the last thirty years. Scholars have questioned the state-centric assumptions upon which mainstream social science has been built, pointing to the territorial (re)distribution of power across and within states. This Handbook brings together leading scholars to demonstrate how territory has shaped institutional structures, public policies, elections, political parties, and identity across the world. Offering theoretical, comparative and empirical insights, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the impact of territory on modern political, economic and social life.
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Chapter 11: Multilevel party competition: a theory of territorial contagion

Eve Hepburn


Substate nationalist and regionalist parties have grown in size and strength across Western Europe over the last 20 years. They have entered government at multiple levels, pursued sophisticated demands for territorial empowerment and pushed the issue of decentralisation of state structures. They are responsible for elevating party competition on the territorial cleavage above that of the class cleavage. The chapter makes the argument that substate nationalist and regionalist parties can be understood as ‘contagious parties’ in multilevel party systems. They are exerting a formidable influence on the territorial positions of other parties, encouraging them to more strongly defend territorial interests and pursue enhanced forms of self-determination. Territorial contagion has a stronger impact on centre-left parties than on centre-right parties, works mainly at the substate level, affects parties in government more strongly than parties in opposition, and has more apparent effects on programmatic discourses than on organisational adaptation.

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