8-14 Abercromby Square

When Elites Rein In Political Challengers

1:00pm - 2:30pm / Wednesday 10th May 2023 / Online event
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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Speaker: Prof Joost van Spanje (Royal Holloway University of London)

Please note: this event is taking place on an online basis only.


How do established elites react to political challengers, and to what effect? In two research projects we distinguish political, media, and legal action against far left and far right challengers. We have charted these reactions in 15 European countries since 1944. In addition, experimental, non-experimental and quasi-experimental studies have focused on effects on citizens. Two types of political reaction result in consistent electoral effects, whereas legal action leads to impact in three very different ways.


Joost van Spanje is Professor of Politics. He specializes in political parties, news media, public opinion, electoral campaigns, and elections in established democracies worldwide. His research team investigates if and how news media cover new parties, and electoral effects of such coverage in 19 countries since 1950. Before coming to London, Joost led a research team at the University of Amsterdam. His Amsterdam team studied effects of legal action against anti-immigration parties on citizens in nine countries since 1965.

In addition to more than 40 SSCI-ranked journal articles, Joost published the 2018 monograph entitled Controlling the Electoral Marketplace: How Established Parties Ward Off Competition. In this book he studies how established parties react to the presence of challenger parties in 15 countries since 1944. Joost argues, and demonstrates empirically (based on experiments, surveys, and election outcomes), that a particular combination of strategies reduces far left and far right parties’ electoral support.

Joost previously conducted research at the University of Oxford, the EUI in Florence, and New York University. Invited talks he has given include lectures at Oxford, WZB, Exeter, UCM, and Stanford. In recent years Joost has won the Annual Political Science Award, an NWO Veni grant, an NWO Vidi grant, and an ERC Consolidator grant. These individual research grants add up to awards of over €3,000,000. In addition, his students nominated him for the 2017 and 2020 University of Amsterdam Lecturer of the Year Awards.

Joost's media experience includes TV interviews given to Al Jazeera and France 24, and Australian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Italian, and US national news media.