‘Comparative political research has tended to overlook the Irish case because it seems that the Irish party system doesn’t fit into the more widely applicable models of party systems’ (Mair, 2003: 119). As Lipset and Rokkan’s (1967) ground-breaking work was applied to case studies throughout Europe, most studies were happy either to leave out the Republic of Ireland case, or to conclude that ‘the Irish party system does not appear to be easily explicable in terms of the cleavage analysis formulated by Lipset and Rokkan’ (1967), since in Ireland ‘electoral behaviour is exceptionally unstructured’ (Carty, 1976: 195). It was argued that ‘in many cases, Irish politics are maverick to Western Europe’ (Henig and Pinder, 1969: 503). Academics were happy to take the view that Ireland could be ‘disregarded because of its size and small industrial base or treated as a special case for historical reasons’ (Epstein, 1967: 138). Views about the uniqueness of the Irish case were typically accompanied by the opinion that Irish political parties were ‘more or less indistinguishable’ (Carty, 1976: 195) and it was even proposed that ‘in no other European polity does such a small number of programmatically indistinguishable parties, each commanding heterogeneous electoral support, constitute an entire party system’ (Carty, 1981: 85). For some time this remained the ‘conventional wisdom’, when, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, a small number of Irish academics began to question this assumption.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Political Parties and the Party System
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number