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Thesis defence

New Party Entry and Political Engagement

Electoral Turnout and Satisfaction with Democracy

Add to calendar 2023-06-15 10:00 2023-06-15 12:00 Europe/Rome New Party Entry and Political Engagement Hybrid (Seminar Room 2 and Online) YYYY-MM-DD


15 June 2023

10:00 - 12:00 CEST


Hybrid (Seminar Room 2 and Online)

PhD thesis defence by Álvaro Canalejo Molero

The last two decades have seen a surge in the institutionalization of new political parties, yet low levels of political engagement are persistent in many Western democracies. This raises questions about whether new parties can effectively channel political discontent and promote participation.

This thesis argues that new party entry has distinct implications for different forms of political engagement. While new parties can increase electoral participation, they can also reinforce democratic dissatisfaction in affectively polarized environments. The empirical chapters provide evidence to support these arguments. Chapter 2 demonstrates that obtaining parliamentary representation does not significantly increase satisfaction with democracy and even reinforces political discontent among anti-establishment radical party voters. Chapter 3 introduces the concept of disruptive elections and shows that rapid electoral shifts can hinder changes in democratic satisfaction by introducing uncertainty into the government formation process. Chapter 4 proposes that considering an in-group/out-group logic is critical to understanding post-electoral changes in satisfaction with democracy among affectively polarized voters. It provides evidence that the establishment party win fosters political discontent among radical party voters despite electoral success. Finally, chapter 5 offers causal evidence that new party entry increases electoral turnout. These findings contribute to the growing literature on the effects of electoral change on political attitudes and behaviour and highlight concerning implications for normative democratic theory. While new political parties may bring new forms of engagement, they can also exacerbate polarizing competition patterns that put democracy at risk. Ultimately, their impact depends on the specific conditions that led to their entry, urging us to consider ways to incorporate new political demands while reducing partisan animosity.

Álvaro Canalejo-Molero is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the EUI and a Post-doctoral researcher in the DIGIPOL project at the University of Lucerne. His research focuses on democratic attitudes and party competition, political behavior, and political sociology more broadly. He has a keen interest in advanced research design, reproducible research and cutting-edge quantitative methodology. 


Charlotte Emily Florence Bufano (EUI)


Prof. Ruth Dassonneville (Université de Montréal)

Professor Chris Anderson (London School of Economics)


Álvaro Molero Canalejo

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