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Explanatory notes on the database.

The database Parties and Elections in Europe provides a comprehensive overview about the parliamentary elections in the European countries and autonomous subdivisions since 1945 and about the political parties and governments. The parties are classified according to their political orientation. The database 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.

Officially recognised parties at European level (Europarties):
EPP : European People's Party
PES : Party of European Socialists
ALDE : Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
EGP : European Green Party
AECR : Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists
EL : Party of the European Left
EFA : European Free Alliance
EDP : European Democratic Party
ADDE : Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe
MENF : Movement for a Europe of Nations and Freedom
ECPM : European Christian Political Movement
EUD : Europeans United for Democracy
MELD : Movement for a Europe of Liberties and Democracy
AENM : Alliance of European National Movements
Voting systems: AMS: Additional member system (one vote for a party and a second vote for a candidate); FPTP: First-past-the-post (plurality voting in single-member constituencies); MMP: Mixed-member proportional representation (one vote for a party and a second for a candidate; with overhang/adjustment seats); Parallel voting (two separate voting systems); Block voting (a system for electing several candidates in one constituency); PR: Party-list proportional representation; STV: Single transferable vote (ranked voting in multi-seat districts); 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: Communist parties primarily 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 ("From each according to his ability, to each according to his need", Karl Marx). This parties intend to overthrow the present capitalist system through revolutionary action of the working class. They often originated after the Russian Revolution of 1917 from leftist factions of socialist or social democratic parties.

- 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).

- Trotskyist parties favour a non-pluralist orthodox tendency established by Leon Trotsky (leader- ship of a vanguard party, dictatorship of the proletariat, internationalism, permanent revolution).

 Socialism: Socialist parties oppose the present capitalist system and intend to establish a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy (state-owned enterprises, employee-owned cooperatives, common ownership). They advocate a society characterised by equal access to resources for all individuals. In general, they strongly emphasise values as equality, solidarity and social justice.

- Democratic socialist parties advocate a strong welfare state with a large public sector. They resist the capitalist globalisation and propose a reorganisation of the socio-economic order through (more) public ownership, workers' control of the labour process and redistributive tax policies. They explicitly advocate an anti-authoritarian form of socialism.

- Eco-socialist parties usually combine socialist, green and alter-globalisation policies.

 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 base on post-materialist values as environmentalism, feminism, nonviolence, civil/human rights, animal welfare, grassroots democracy and social justice. They generally favour an economy that aims for sustainable development without degrading the environment.

 Social democracy: Social democratic parties are centre-left parties rooted in the socialist labour movement of the 19th century. They advocate a democratic welfare state and a mixed economy that contains privately-owned and state-owned enterprises. This parties adhere to values as freedom, equality, solidarity and social justice. Since the 1990s, most of them incorporated economically liberal topics as limited social welfare, privatisations, deregulations and lower company taxes (Third Way).

 Regionalism: Regionalist (autonomist) parties focus on the interests of a particular region within a state. They generally intend to secure or to increase the region's influence. Their aim is a decentralisation of governance and regional autonomy.

- Separatist parties advocate a full political secession of a particular region and the formation of a new state.

- Minority parties intend to secure or to increase the rights of an ethnical or linguistical minority (minority interests).

 Centrism: Centrist parties are usually moderate traditionalist parties which 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 speech, 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 national liberalism).

- Social liberal parties stress civil and political rights. They favour a social market economy.

 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. Usually they advocate a social market economy.

 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. They oppose a further European integration and favour the preservation of the nation-state with its cultural identity. This parties generally advocate law-and-order and strict immigration policies. Normally they also emphasise traditional social values.

- Social conservative parties focus on the preservation of traditional social, ethical and religious values.

 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 forms 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.

- 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. This 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, Alter-/Anti-globalisation, Animal welfare, Anti-capitalism, Anti-clericalism, Anti-corruption politics, Direct democracy, Euroscepticism, Feminism, Gaullism, Kemalism, Localism, Loyalism, Libertarianism, Pirate politics (direct democracy, copyright reform, freedom of information), Pensioners' interests, Pro-, Religious beliefs (Christian left/right, Evangelicalism, Islamism), Statism, Unionism.

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© Wolfram Nordsieck, Merkurstraße 1, 40223 Düsseldorf. E-Mail: info[at]parties-and-elections.eu.