Peter Obert, Jochen Müller
The thresholds of representation and relevance and their implications for the survival of new parties in the context of Czech regional elections

ECPR General Conference, Sciences Po, Bordeaux, September 04th to September 07th, 2013

Building on insights from studies on party life-spans and the electoral success of new political parties, this paper examines the determinants of the electoral success of newly formed political parties with special attention to different thresholds. We hypothesize that in a fragmented party system, newly formed parties do not only increase their chances to survive by gaining more votes, but also if they cross the representational threshold, receive enough votes to enjoy the benefits of public funding and win control over governmental offices and thus prove themselves to be able to cross the threshold of relevance. In particular, this paper aims at identifying what effect regional government participation has on the subsequent electoral success of newly founded parties by drawing on local data on regional elections since the inception of the Czech regions in 2000. As a general result, we find that the imperatives of electoral competition that are related to the threshold of representation and relevance provide a conclusive explanation of the empirical dynamic of new party survival in the Czech regions.