Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Seminar

Party Polarisation on Climate Change: A Fuzzy Set Analysis

Tue 10 November 2015Speaker: Ms Fay Madeleine Farstad, University of YorkVenue: Fishbowl, Building 24, University of Canberra

Abstract

Party polarisation on climate change is a serious impediment to action on the most dangerous global commons problem humanity has ever faced, and forms a constitutive part of the explanation for variation in states’ responses and ambitions on the issue. Though the detrimental effects of party polarisation for policy continuity – and climate change measures in particular – have begun to be highlighted, however, very little research has explored why party polarisation on climate change occurs in the first place, and no research has set this question in a comparative context. As such, this paper uses fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) to examine the determinants of party polarisation on climate change – here conceived as cross-party differences in issue prioritisation (salience). In doing this, it is the first paper to use this burgeoning methodology for these purposes, and the first paper to analyse party polarisation on climate change comparatively. The paper finds that a presence of strong fossil fuel interests, a high number of veto points, high levels of pluralism and a majoritarian electoral system are in conjunction sufficient for party polarisation on climate change. Moreover, it finds that a lack of veto points and operating within a corporatist- and multiparty system are in conjunction sufficient for cross-party consensus, or rather ‘no polarisation’. In doing this, the paper also reveals how the presence of strong fossil fuel interests is not in itself enough to determine polarisation, but needs to be combined with other conditions in order to have an impact. Similarly, high levels of pluralism combined with a majoritarian electoral system is not enough to produce polarisation, and thus needs to be combined with the presence of strong fossil fuel interests and/or multiple veto points in order to impact on polarisation.  Lastly, the paper demonstrates the benefits of the fsQCA methodology over ‘net effect’ methodologies (such as regressions) for explaining such complex social relationships, and provides grounds for further qualitative case study analysis.

Bio

Fay Madeleine Farstad is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Politics at the University of York (UK). Her research on the comparative party politics of climate change is supervised by Prof. Neil Carter and Dr Sofia Vasilopoulou, and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). She holds a BA in Philosophy and Politics from the University of York and an MPhil in Environmental Policy from the University of Cambridge. She is a visiting student at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra until the end of December. 

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