'out with the old, in with the "new"': What constitutes a new party?

Shlomit Barnea*, Gideon Rahat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


'What constitutes a new political party?' The answer to this question is central to the analysis of stability, continuity and change of party organizations, inter-party politics (party systems) and the political system as a whole. Yet, political science literature does not offer a standard answer to this question. The use of different conceptualizations limits the ability of political scientists to communicate with each other, and a lack of awareness of the variations in the conceptualization and operationalization of new parties may lead to errors in the interpretation of data. This study proposes two tools by which to analyse a party's 'newness'. The first involves a multidimensional framework that enables the relative 'newness' of a party to be reckoned; the second is a definition that proposes a threshold to determine (dichotomously) whether a party should be considered as new or not. We use the borderline case of the Israeli party Kadima to demonstrate the usefulness of these tools at the level of the party and its significance at the party system level.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)303-320
Number of pages18
JournalParty Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • new parties
  • party system change
  • political change


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