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Explanatory notes about the database.

I. Abstract
Parties and Elections in Europe provides a comprehensive database about the parliamentary elections in the European countries and autonomous subdivisions since 1945 and additional informations about the political parties, the political leaders, the composition of governments and the electoral laws. The parties are characterised according to their political orientation. The website also contains an electoral calendar, news in brief and links to parties and election authorities.
The independent and private website was established by Wolfram Nordsieck in 1997. The editor began his comparative study of political parties, party systems, elections and constitutional laws in the late 1980s. Thereafter he studied law and modern history at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany. Today he practices law.
II. Abbreviations
Officially recognised Europarties in 2014 (an Europarty, formally called a political party at European level, is a party operating transnationally in Europe and in the institutions of the European Union):
EPP : European People's Party EFA : European Free Alliance
PES : Party of European Socialists ADDE : Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe
ALDE : Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe EAF : European Alliance for Freedom
EGP : European Green Party AENM : Alliance of European National Movements
AECR : Alliance of European Conserv. and Reformists ECPM : European Christian Political Movement
EL : Party of the European Left EUD : EUDemocrats
EDP : European Democratic Party        
Political internationals (listed are internationals with a specified membership and at least one MP in a parliament):
SI : Socialist International GG : Global Greens
CDI : Centrist Democrat International PPI : Pirate Party International
IDU : International Democrat Union CWI : Committee for a Workers' International
LI : Liberal International      
Voting systems: PR: Party-list proportional representation; MMP/AMS: Mixed-member proportional representation/ Additional member system (mixed systems; one vote for a party and a second for a candidate in a constituency; MMP with overhang/adjustment seats); STV: Single transferable vote (ranked voting in multi-seat constituencies); FPTP: First-past-the-post (plurality voting in single-member constituencies); TRS: Two-round system.
III. Classifications (from left to right in the political spectrum)
The political parties are characterised according to their political orientation (the main ideology is generally listed at the beginning, further orientations are additionally listed afterwards). The categories primarily base on the Cleavage Model (Lipset/Rokkan defined four basic cleavages: Owner
-Worker, State-Church, Urban-Rural, Centre-Periphery) and the main types of party families noted by v. Beyme:
Communism: The left-wing communist parties adhere to Marxism developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the 19th century. Their aim is the free and classless society based on common ownership of the means of production. They often originated after the Russian October Revolution of 1917 from revolutionary factions of social democratic parties. Today some of them favour pluralist and reformist ways to achieve this aim (formerly called eurocommunists), others still adhere to the following revolutionary doctrines (keywords in brackets):
Marxist-Leninist (also called Leninist) parties prefer a non-pluralist orthodox tendency developed by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (leadership of a vanguard party, dictatorship of the proletariat, centralism; official doctrine of the former SU).
Trotskyist parties favour a non-pluralist orthodox tendency established by Leon Trotsky (leadership of a vanguard party, dictatorship of the proletariat, permanent revolution, workers' councils, internationalism).
Socialism: Socialist parties are left-wing parties that advocate a society characterised by equal access to resources for all individuals. This parties intend to reorganise the present capitalist socio-economic order into an alternative socialist economy through social ownership of the means of production (employee-owned cooperatives and state-owned companies).
Democratic socialist parties resist the capitalist globalisation and prefer a democratic welfare state with a large public sector, redistributive tax policies, workers' control of the labour process and public ownership of key industries. Historically the term democratic socialism is closely related to social democracy.
Eco-socialist parties usually combine democratic socialist, green and anti-globalisation policies.
Social democracy: Social democratic parties are centre-left parties rooted in the socialist labour movement of the 19th century. Originally they intended to establish democratic socialism through reformist methods. Today they are cross-class parties that (primarily) advocate a democratic welfare state and a mixed economy. This parties generally adhere to values as freedom, equality, solidarity and social justice. Most of them incorporated some economically liberal topics as deregulations, privatisations, lower taxes, reduced state interventions into economic affairs and limited social welfare in the 1990s (Third Way).
Green politics: Most of the green and alternative parties were founded in the late 1970s as part of the new social movements that came up in the mid-1960s (in particular the ecology, peace, women's and anti-nuclear movements). This parties largely base on post-materialist values as environmentalism, nonviolence, civil and human rights, grassroots and participatory democracy, feminism, animal welfare and social justice.
Regionalism: Regionalist (also called autonomist) parties focus on the interests of a particular region. They intend to increase the region's influence. Their aim is a decentralisation of governance and regional autonomy.
Minority parties intend to secure or to increase the rights of an ethnical or linguistical minority (minority interests).
Separatist parties advocate a full political secession of a particular region and the formation of a new state.
Centrism: Centrist parties are usually moderate traditionalist parties which are in the centre of the political spectrum and take a centrist position on the socio-economic left-right scale.
Liberalism: Liberal parties are middle-class parties based on the tradition of political liberalism, a movement of the 18th century. The doctrine of liberalism considers personal freedom to be the most important goal. In particular it favours free markets, free trade, limited governments, low taxes and private property (economic liberalism) as well as equality for all citizens under the law, civil rights, secularism and freedom of press and religion.
Conservative liberal parties combine liberal policies with more traditional stances on social and ethical issues (in some countries this form of liberalism is traditionally known as right-wing or national liberalism).
Social liberal parties stress civil liberties and human rights; economically they tend to social market economies.
Christian democracy: The Christian social doctrine (basic principle: human dignity) is the main inspiration of Christian democratic parties. This cross-class parties advocate Christian ethical and moderate social conservative stances. They are very supportive of family values and adhere to principles as freedom, solidarity and subsidiarity. This parties oppose any form of secularism. Economically, they usually favour a social market model. 
Conservatism: Originally inspired by natural law and formed by the upper-class, conservative parties today are middle-class organisations that seek to preserve established traditions and the current the status quo of a society or nation. They normally advocate traditional values as authority, nation, religion, family, stability and continuity. Over the time they incorporated some liberal values, especially on economic issues (free market policies).
Liberal conservative parties combine conservative policies with more liberal stances on social and ethical issues. 
National conservative parties combine conservative policies with national stances. This socially traditional parties concentrate on national interests. They oppose a further European integration and favour the preservation of the nation-state with its cultural identity. Usually they also advocate law-and-order and strict immigration policies.
Social conservative parties focus on the preservation of traditional social and ethical values; they especially support traditional family values. In economic terms, many of them tend to a social market economy.
Nationalism: The right-wing nationalist parties believe that the nation with its collective ethnical, linguistical and cultural identity, its natural order and its sovereignty is of primary importance. This involves a strong identification with the nation-state and its symbols. It usually also includes negative views of other nations.
Right-wing populist parties are protest parties that appeal to the fears and frustrations of the public. They appeared first in the early 1970s. Their strategy rely on a combination of nationalism with an anti-elitist rhetoric and a radical critique of the political institutions. Normally they prefer strict law-and-order and anti-immigration polices and tend to anti-Islamism. They often also promote themselves as defenders of liberal values.
Right-wing extremist (far-right) parties are ultra-nationalist parties that adhere to a pure form of the nation defined by ethnicity. They believe that a nation state requires a collective identity and a strong leadership. These parties challenge the equality of all humans. They tend to forms of authoritarianism, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and corporatism. Normally they are hostile to the present democratic systems and their values.
Others (single issues): Agrarianism, Animal welfare, Anti-capitalism, Anti-clericalism, Anti-corruption politics, Anti-/Alter-globalisation, Centralism, Environmentalism, Euroscepticism, Feminism, Gaullism, Kemalism, Loyalism, Libertarianism, Monarchism, Participatory democracy; Pirate politics (direct/participatory democracy, copyright reform, freedom of information, civil rights), Pensioners' interests, Pro-EU/Eurasian Union/Russia, Religious beliefs (Christian left/right, Evangelicalism, Islamism), Statism, Unionism.

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