The Erosion (or not) of Dominant Political Parties: Scotland and Wales Compared

Roger Awan-Scully, Malcolm Harvey

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paper


Within democratic political systems there is a general expectation that different political parties will alternate in electoral success and the holding of major political offices. While usually manifested, these expectations do not universally hold. There are significant examples where parties have experienced sustained dominance – either across entire countries or within particular regions within them. Why does single-party dominance occur? And why does it either persist or erode? We explore these questions through consideration of Greene’s landmark study, Why Dominant Parties Lose. Greene’s argument is based heavily on the political-economy of dominance, with the erosion of dominance argued to occur with the decay of the socio-economic foundations that underpin the dominant party. We extend the empirical scope of work in this area to the sub-state level, and begin to test Greene's argument against recent experiences in the UK. There the long-dominant Labour party suffered a catastrophic political decline between 2005-15 in Scotland, but has seen its electoral and governmental dominance continue almost entirely uninterrupted in Wales. We explore whether the difference in the fate of Scottish Labour and Welsh Labour is based on fundamental differences emerging in the political economies of Scotland and Wales, or whether it grounded in more directly political factors, such as the effectiveness of leadership, the organization of its opponents, or the rise of new political issues.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2023
EventAmerican Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2023 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: 31 Aug 20233 Sept 2023


ConferenceAmerican Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLos Angeles
Internet address


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