Skip to main content

Third Ways and Social Democracy: The Right Way to Go?

  • Hans Keman
Hide All

1 See, for example, Scharpf, Fritz W., ‘Employment in the Welfare State in the Open Economy’, in René Cuperus, Karl Duffek and Johannes Kandel, eds, European Social Democracy Facing the Twin Revolution of Globalisation and Knowledge Society (Amsterdam: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung/ Wiardi Beckman Stichting/Renner Institut, 2001), pp. 6377; Keman, Hans, ‘Contemporary Approaches to Social Democracy: Old Wines in New Bottles’, European Political Science, 7 (2008), 494506.

2 Developed by Pennings, Paul and Keman, Hans in ‘Towards a New Methodology of Estimating Party Policy Positions’, Quality & Quantity, 38 (2002), 5579, and based on data published by Budge, Ian, Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, Volkens, Andrea, Bara, Judith and Tanenbaum, Eric, Mapping Policy Preferences: Parties, Governments, Electors 1945–1998 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), and Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, Volkens, Andrea, Bara, Judith, Budge, Ian and McDonald, Michael, Mapping Policy Preferences II: Estimates for Parties, Electors and Governments in Central and Eastern Europe, European Union and OECD 1990–2003 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). These data have been derived by the international Manifesto Research Group analysing party electoral platforms by means of word frequencies into 56 categories over time representing policy positions and political issues; see Appendix II of Budge et al., Mapping Policy Preferences, pp. 219–28.

3 Keman, Hans and Pennings, Paul, ‘Competition and Coalescence: Social Democracy and Christian Democracy Moving into the 21st Century’, Swiss Political Science Review, 12 (2006), 95126.

4 Because of the process of federalization in Belgium, since 1978 two party systems have been at work in Belgium. Therefore, the Flemish and Walloon party systems are treated as separate cases.

5 Armingeon, Klaus, Beyeler, Michelle and Menegale, Sarah, Comparative Political Data Set 1960–2004 (Institute of Political Science (IPW), University of Bern, 2007). See website:

6 Esping-Andersen, Gøsta, Politics Against Markets: The Social Democratic Road to Power (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985); Van Kersbergen, Kees, Social Capitalism: A Study of Christian Democracy and the Welfare State (London: Routledge 1995).

7 Keman, ‘Contemporary Approaches to Social Democracy’.

8 Green-Pedersen, Christopher, van Kersbergen, Kees and Hemerijck, Anton, ‘Neo-Liberalism, the “Third Way” or What? Recent Social Democratic Welfare Policies in Denmark and the Netherlands’, Journal of European Public Policy, 8 (2001), 307325; Blair, Tony and Schroeder, Gerhard, Europe: The Third Way/Die Neue Mitte (see various websites for reports of this speech, June 1999).

9 Giddens, Anthony, The Third Way and Its Critics (London: Polity Press, 2000); Merkel, Wolfgang, ‘The Third Ways of Social Democracy’, in René Cuperus and Johannes Kandel, eds, Social Democratic Think Tanks Explore the Magical Return of Social Democracy in a Liberal Era (Amsterdam, Berlin; Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 1998), pp. 2762; Meyer, Thomas (with Hinchman, Lewis P.), The Theory of Social Democracy (Oxford: Polity Press, 2007).

10 See also: Pennings, Paul, ‘European Social Democracy between Planning and Market: A Comparative Exploration of Trends and Variations’, Journal of European Public Policy, 6 (1999), 743756; Pierson, Chris, Hard Choices: Social Democracy in the 21st Century (Oxford: Polity Press, 2001); Keman, Hans, ‘Explaining Miracles: Third Ways and Work & Welfare’, West European Politics, 26 (2003), 115135; Schmidt, Vivian et al. , Public Discourse and Welfare State Reform: The Social Democratic Experience (Amsterdam: Mets & Schilt, 2005).

11 Giddens, Anthony, The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy (London: Polity Press, 1998), esp. p. 65; Merkel, Wolfgang, Egle, C., Henkes, Christopher, Ostheim, T., Petring, A., Die Reformfähigkeit der Sozialdemokratie. Herausforderungen und Bilanz der Regierungspolitik in Westeuropa (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2006).

12 In Keman, Hans, ‘Experts and Manifestos: Different Sources – Same Results for Comparative Research?’ Electoral Studies, 26 (2007), 114, the use of manifestos has been cross-validated against expert surveys and proved to be more reliable over time than other sources like expert surveys.

13 Keman, Hans, ‘Theoretical Approaches to Social Democracy’, Journal of Theoretical Politics, 5 (1993), 291316.

14 Castles, Francis G., ed., The Disappearing State: Retrenchment Realities in an Age of Globalism (Cheltenham/Northampton: Edward Elgar, 2007).

15 The emphasis on a traditional Welfare State – or social security state – is operationalized by means of data derived from Budge et al., Mapping Policy Preferences, pp. 219–28, and Klingemann et al., Mapping Policy Preference II, using the following variables of the dataset (see fn. 2): PER404, PER409, PER412, PER504. The emphasis on the social investment state or ‘Third Ways’ is measured by PER402, PER403, PER411, PER506. All are percentages of the total text of the respective party platforms representing the issues related to these scales and are added up for each party over time.

16 Working Class Appeal is constructed by means of the following variables from the Manifesto Research Group datasets (see fn. 2): PER415, PER701, PER705, PER706, representing positive references on labour groups, minority groups on the labour market and positive references to the underprivileged in society. A high(er) score – representing percentages of the party programme text – implies stronger attention to the working-class constituency.

17 It should be noticed that in many West European parties (such as in Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and France) there are left-wing contenders included in the category ‘other parties’, whose presence obviously influences the results for social democratic parties. Leaving these out would mean an even more convergent development.

18 Kitschelt, Herbert, ‘European Social Democracy between Political Economy and Electoral Competition’, in Herbert Kitschelt, Peter Lange, Gary Marks and John D. Stephens, eds, Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 317345.

19 See also Paul Pennings, ‘Voters, Elections and Ideology in European Democracies’, and Volkens, Andrea, ‘Policy Changes of European Social Democrats, 1945–1998’, both in Giuliano Bonoli and Martin Powell, eds, Social Democratic Party Policies in Contemporary Europe (London: Routledge, 2004); Keman and Pennings, ‘Competition and Coalescence’.

20 Cuperus, René and Kandel, Johannes, Transformation in Progress: European Social Democracy (Amsterdam–Berlin–Vienna: Wiarda Beckman Stichting; Friedrich–Ebert–Stiftung and Renner Institut, 1998); Kitschelt, Herbert, The Transformation of European Social Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); Mair, Peter, ‘In the Aggregate: Mass Electoral Behaviour in Western Europe, 1950–2000’, in Hans Keman, ed., Comparative Democratic Politics: A Guide to Present Theory and Research (London: Sage Publishers, 2002); Keman and Pennings, ‘Competition and Coalescence’.

21 Merkel, , ‘The Third Ways of Social Democracy’, in Cuperus and Kandel, Transformation in Progress, p. 33.

22 By, for example, Cuperus and Kandel, Transformation in Progress, and Merkel, ‘The Third Ways of Social Democracy’.

23 Note that the 6.2 per cent increase in seats is positively affected by the first-past-the-post electoral systems in Australia, New Zealand (up to the 1996 election) and Britain.

24 See this argument in Budge, Ian, ‘Rational Choice as Comparative Theory: Beyond Economic Self Interest’, in Hans Keman, ed., Comparative Politics (Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1993), pp. 81100.

25 Cuperus and Kandel, Transformation in Progress.

26 See also Pierson, Hard Choices; and Castles, ed., The Disappearing State.

27 Giddens, The Third Way and Its Critics; Huber, Evelyn and Stephens, John D., ‘Internationalization and the Social Democratic Model’, Comparative Political Studies, 31 (1998), 353397.

28 Keman, Hans, ‘Party Government Formation and Policy Preferences: An Encompassing Approach?’ in Albert Weale and Judith Bara, eds, Democracy, Parties and Elections (London: Routledge, 2006).

* Department of Political Science, VU University Amsterdam (email: ). Earlier versions of this Research Note were presented at the ECPR Joint Sessions and the Australian National University. I thank Frank Castles (ANU) and Gary Marks (UNC at Chapel Hill/VU University) for their helpful comments and Malika Ait Mallouk for her excellent assistance.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed