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Thomas M Meyer and Berhard Miller, "The niche party concept and its measurement" Party Politics, 21 (March 2015), 259-271. [Available at]

First paragraph:

A distinction that has in recent years become increasingly popular is the one between mainstream and niche parties. Based on Bonnie Meguid’s (2005, 2008) pioneering work, a growing literature shows how the competitive behaviour of niche parties differs from that of their ‘mainstream’ rivals. The niche party concept has been highly influential in the study of party competition and deserves much credit for enriching research on party behaviour (see, e.g., Adams et al., 2006Ezrow, 2008Jensen and Spoon, 2010).

Figures and Table

Table 1: Nicheness in an exemplary five party system
Table 2: Descriptive statistics of party nichemess
Figure 1: Nicheness by party families
Figure 2: Nicheness by Meguid's classification of mainstream and niche parties
Figure 3: Nicehness by Wagner's classification of mainstream and niche parties
Figure 4: Variance in salience over time

Last Paragraph:

Future research on political parties may also focus on further consequences of party nicheness. There is empirical evidence that party nicheness affects representation of specific voter groups (Adams and Ezrow, 2009Ezrow et al., 2010) and voting behaviour in parliament (Jensen and Spoon, 2010). We may also expect that party nicheness affects coalition governance including the making of coalition agreements, the choice of control-mechanisms in government coalitions or the allocation of ministries. Moreover, the nicheness of a party is likely to be an important factor when it comes to two further (and otherwise well-studied) subjects: government formation and termination. It may be argued that niche and mainstream parties make for particularly suitable combinations in government, as they do not compete on the same topics. Such mutually exclusive policy profiles could also prolong a coalition’s lifetime. Clearly, understanding party behaviour in the electoral, legislative and governmental arenas is at the heart of comparative politics. The niche party concept may well help us understand and explain differences in party behaviour. This article provides new tools with which these questions can be tackled.

Last updated March 2015