Skip to main content


Movement Parties Against Austerity

Donatella della Porta, Joseba Fernández, Hara Kouki, Lorenzo Mosca

ISBN: 978-1-509-51149-5 April 2017 Polity 246 Pages


The ascendance of austerity policies and the protests they have generated have had a deep impact on the shape of contemporary politics. The stunning electoral successes of SYRIZA in Greece, Podemos in Spain and the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) in Italy, alongside the quest for a more radical left in countries such as the UK and the US, bear witness to a new wave of parties that draws inspiration and strength from social movements.

The rise of movement parties challenges simplistic expectations of a growing separation between institutional and contentious politics and the decline of the left. Their return demands attention as a way of understanding both contemporary socio-political dynamics and the fundamentals of political parties and representation.

Bridging social movement and party politics studies, within a broad concern with democratic theories, this volume presents new empirical evidence and conceptual insight into these topical socio-political phenomena, within a cross-national comparative perspective.


Chapter 1. Movement Parties in Times of (Anti)Austerity: An Introduction

Chapter 2. The Genesis of Movement Parties in the Neoliberal Critical Juncture

Chapter 3. Organizational Repertoires of Movement Parties

Chapter 4. Framing Movement Parties

Chapter 5. Comparing Movement Parties’ Success and Failures

Chapter 6. Movement Parties: Some Conclusions

Appendix: List of Interviews


"Austerity policies in Europe have done little to ignite economic growth but have created a firestorm in politics. The volume's expert analysis of the new anti-austerity social movements and political parties makes major theoretical contributions in movement dynamics, as well as illuminating current politics." 
Jack A. Goldstone, Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University

"The relationship between parties and social movements has always been difficult. The recent domination of neoliberalism and austerity have changed that: a marriage of convenience has become a love affair. The future of the Left depends on the permanence and length of this relationship. This definitive study will become the standard reference in the academic literature and will help party members and militants to understand and strengthen links with each other. In this sense, the volume is a first - both as a scientific achievement and as a guide to action." 
Costas Douzinas, University of London and Member for Pireas, Hellenic Parliament

"The authors develop strong historical and theoretical foundations for empirical comparisons of three important protest parties […], developing both the cases and larger issues in the study of protest parties. […] The analysis and comparisons offered […] are well informed and sharp […]. I am grateful for the provocation to think critically about the development of a dramatic and inspiring campaign against inequality in Europe and around the world."
David S. Meyer, American Journal of Sociology

"A clear and focused analysis of contemporary processes of political contention in Southern Europe, illustrating how movement parties were able to channel popular discontent into political realignments. The work makes an immediate contribution to social movement theory and makes suggestive reading in the contemporary political context, where 'populist' challenges from both the right and left are shaking up established political patterns across the world."
Contemporary Sociology

"A rich and detailed analysis of three movement parties – Syriza, Podemos and M5S. […] The book's analysis is important for social and political activists. It is also valuable to theorists of radical politics and democracy and relevant for contemporary debates among post-Marxists."
Contemporary Political Theory

"This book bridges two subfields (social movements and political parties) that have increasingly distanced themselves from one another. This is perhaps the biggest contribution of the study."
European Political Science

"Della Porta et al's study demonstrates well how breaks in political organisation are generated partly by social movements, but also how the trajectories of existing political parties are a crucial element in shaping political developments."
Interface: a journal for and about social movements

“[A remarkable study] of political expression in the current neoliberal juncture [...] useful [...] for all students and researchers in the social sciences wishing to understand the current context and the development of protest politics in times of austerity and economic crisis.”
Acta Sociologica