Stein Rokkan Lecture "Nationalization and Democracy"Delivered at the awarding ceremony in Beijing November 18th, 2004 Madam President, Distinguished Delegates of the ISSC Associations and Members of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am deeply grateful to UNESCO’s International Social Science Council and to the ECPR Jury Members for the great honour they have bestowed upon me by awarding my book on the nationalisation of politics the Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences, and by inviting me to give this lecture, the eleventh in the series. To be the author of a book that receives such a prestigious prize is a high honour first and foremost because it remembers the man, Prof. Stein Rokkan, a renaissance figure of gigantic productivity, manifoldness and creativity who has contributed like no one else to the development of modern political science and political sociology. Not only did Stein Rokkan devote inexhaustible energy to the creation of a worldwide social science community (among which the ISSC and the ECPR are core organisations and of which Stein Rokkan was chairman and president), but also – as an unparalleled scholar – Stein Rokkan contributed to the study of the formation of nation-states in Europe and their democratisation. Our understanding of the nation-state and democracy owes a great deal to the ambitious research programme of this outstanding scientist. Above all, Stein Rokkan’s fascinating historical macro-sociological "fresco" of Europe reveals the magnificence and the uniqueness of the birth of mass democracy, unquestionably the most formidable change in the political history of humanity, when – for the first time in an unprecedented but (I believe) successful “experiment” – equal and free citizens were involved and participated in political decision making. The book I have the honour of presenting to you today has been profoundly inspired by Stein Rokkan’s work and his effort to build comparative, historical and machine-readable databases: It is comparative (covering all Western European countries), historical (tracing data back to the first years of parliamentary life in the early nineteenth century), and empirical (based on a large collection of district-level data which I had previously made available to the scientific community in a handbook supplemented with a CD-ROM). What is the book about? It is a book about democracy and elections, and the basic question too that underlies this work is one that can be found in several of Rokkan’s writings: Under what conditions did national electorates and party systems form in Europe? The nationalisation of politics is a major long-term political phenomenon: A broad historical evolution toward the formation of national electorates and party systems, party organisations and campaigns, as well as party programmes. Through nationalisation, the highly localised politics of the early phases of electoral competition in the nineteenth century is replaced with nationwide electoral alignments. With the development of central party organisations, local candidates are absorbed into national structures and ideologies. Programmes become national and reduce the scope of local problems, with the most relevant issues being transferred to the national level. A process – in a nutshell – of democratic and electoral integration. Nationalisation processes consist of the withering away of the territorial dimension in politics. Peripheral areas and populations are integrated into a national system. Differences between regions, centres and peripheries, and between urban and rural areas, lessen: First, differences in the levels of political participation (turnout or electoral participation more specifically); Second, differences in the identification and support (in the vote) for party families (liberals, social democrats, agrarians, Catholics and conservatives, and so on). What do the data show? The empirical evidence collected for all countries over a period of more than 150 years of electoral history prove without any doubt that electoral integration has indeed taken place. First, data on turnout show the integration of peripheries, marginal socio-economic regions, traditional agrarian societies, and clientelistic local political cultures. Data show the increasing mobilisation of peripheries within a national system. Second, party vote figures show the blurring (the weakening) of the territoriality of cleavages: the class or left–right cleavage, state–church, urban–rural and centre–periphery (cultural) cleavages. In spite of country differences, for both turnout and party support there is a general trend toward the reduction of regional diversity of electoral behaviour in Europe. This nationalisation process has been continuous. There are no reversals. Yet it has been a process in two distinct phases. The nationalisation of politics takes place “early” – in the second half of the nineteenth century until World War I, that is, during the early stages of formation and structuring of cleavage constellations and party systems. It is a transformation that characterises forming systems starting immediately after the consolidation of their external state borders and after their internal democratisation. After World War II, on the contrary, the territorial structures of the vote in Europe stabilise and remain nationalised. World War I marks the point at which nationalising trends come to an end. This is the moment of the “massification of politics”. First, through the rapid extension of suffrage. Second, through the formation of mass parties for the mobilisation of mass electorates. Third, through proportional representation electoral systems which replaced nearly everywhere the majoritarian systems in force during periods of restricted electorates and limited access to representation. The mobilisation of mass electorates “froze” the territorial structures of the vote and no factor intervening after World War II was able to modify them significantly: neither the further development of electronic communication technologies, nor socio-economic transformations (such as service societies and secularisation), nor finally the transformation of political parties from mass parties into broader “catch-all” people’s parties deprived of solid electoral bases, dense organisational networks and constraining ideologies. How can we explain the nationalisation of politics? The comparison of party families, and of the cleavages from which they originate, shows that the progressive formation of nationalised electorates and party systems must be explained in the first place through the supremacy of the left–right alignment, a functional non-territorial dimension that resulted from state–church conflicts first and, later, from the class cleavage which developed out of industrialisation and urbanisation. These oppositions that characterise the National and the Industrial Revolutions – the “twin revolutions of the West” in Reinhard Bendix’s words – expressed in the parties of the left–right dimension which the analysis has shown as being the most nationalised party families: socialist parties on the one hand; liberals and conservatives on the other. National electorates and party systems were caused in the first place by the supremacy of the homogenising industrial class cleavage over dis-homogenising pre-industrial ethno-linguistic and religious party families. Two groups of party families of the left–right dimension are particularly important: First, liberals and conservatives (or Catholics in many countries) are the party families which dominated Western party systems until the advent of class parties. They had the “monopoly of representation” and were nationalised from the very beginning of competitive politics. Liberals and conservatives were opposed on the fundamental issues of political modernisation – namely, democratisation and secularisation – that is, nationwide and non-territorial oppositions. Their trend towards nationalisation is precocious, continuous and progressive as they had the opportunity to carry out the first mobilisation of restricted electorates. Second, socialist and agrarian parties appear later under the double impact of the Industrial Revolution and the extension of suffrage. These are the parties that develop out of “mass politics” and their evolution towards the nationalisation of electoral support is, opposite to liberals and conservatives, sudden and fast. What are the implications of nationalisation processes for democracy? Territorial cleavages – which are typical of early parliamentary life – are wiped out by the “massification” of politics. Nationalisation and democratisation are therefore strictly intertwined. The nationalisation of politics would not have been possible without the double and simultaneous impact of, first, the social mobilisation caused by the Industrial Revolution, and, second, the political mobilisation which followed the extension of voting rights and their equalisation through the abolition of voting restrictions. In both regards, a fundamental democratisation and “massification” of politics and society. In addition, elites deliberately used liberalising reforms to forge national identities through the incorporation of equal citizens into the political system. The extension and equalisation of voting rights has therefore represented a process through which the nation was strengthened. In turn, however, the nationalisation of politics has deeply modified political representation and thus democracy. Nationalisation processes represent a crucial step in the structuring of party politics. The nineteenth century witnessed the most striking changes in political life with the transition from absolutist to parliamentary regimes, and with the entry of the masses onto the political stage. Parliaments, which in many cases had not been convened since the end of the Middle Ages, were reintroduced, and in all countries these bodies soon transformed into modern parliaments based on individual representation. Yet, in spite of this general democratisation of West European political systems, national electoral alignments and party organisations did not appear suddenly in the aftermath of democratic reforms. The systems that developed in the nineteenth century remained initially unstructured and highly territorialised and – in the absence of national party organisations and nationwide oppositions – politics remained dominated by local issues and candidates, which prolonged the control on political life of elites of the past. Hence nationalisation as a central element of democratisation. In Rokkan’s words, nationalisation processes consist in “the breakdown of the traditional systems of local rule through the entry of nationally organised parties” (Citizens, Elections, Parties, 1970: 227). The nationalisation of electoral alignments and political parties, has meant the transition from a fragmented type of politics with strong local political figures to national mechanisms of political accountability in which candidates are submitted to controls and sanctions from national electorates. National party organisations with strict vertical controls over local branches gave electorates the possibility to directly influence national decision making. This replaced the high fragmentation of political representation. Candidates no longer merely represented their constituencies, but began to stand for nationwide interests and values. The building of national party organisations in control of the behaviour of single personalities has therefore increased the responsiveness in a political process no longer run by powerful personalities but instead inserted in stable structures in which programmes and policies were debated through a much larger participation at all levels. Nationalisation processes thus led to the formation of a political democratic citizenship. A final word concerns the future. The fact that nationalisation processes take place “early”, starting immediately after the transition to competitive elections, suggests that it is typical of forming democratic systems. This aspect cannot be ignored today when looking at European societies and politics – and, more generally, at all new democratic systems. With the acceleration of European integration in the political sphere in the last decade – after an earlier integration in the economic and legal spheres – we are currently confronted with the formation of a new political space. One of the tasks for the future is to investigate if what has been described in my book at the level of nation-states can be used to interpret the structuring of a European political space. On the one hand, with the integration of Europe in a common political system, national diversities acquire an entire new weight and meaning, and may become a source of division: Ethnic, linguistic, and religious diversity, but also different state traditions and citizenship, as well as styles of participation. In particular with the breakdown of communist rule and European enlargement, Central and East European countries increase the territorial and cultural diversity of Europe. These countries are much more diverse than West European ones, and today become member-states without having been nation-states (under the various empires). Territorial and cultural dimensions – most of which disappeared at the level of nation-state through nationalisation processes – may therefore re-appear at the level of the European Union. The integration of European electorates and party systems comparable to the process that took place a century earlier at the level of nation-states seems unlikely also because most of the factors that led to the nationalisation of fragmented electorates during a period of great social and political mobilisation are absent today in Europe. On the contrary, we witness clear trends toward de-mobilisation with lowering levels of electoral participation. On the other hand, however, a number of empirical investigations – among which my own latest research on the existence and the shape of an emerging European electorate – seem to suggest that the predominance of the left–right dimension in all national systems will deploy – once again – integration effects also at the European Union level. Such preliminary results therefore encourage a more systematic collaboration between comparative politics and European Union studies. The concepts and empirical material developed in the frame of the nationalisation research can be useful to analyse Europeanisation processes today. These certainly are still very open questions. However, as for so many other current issues, Stein Rokkan’s visionary work remains a constant source of inspiration. Indeed, recent reflection on the European Union has applied his use of the “exit/voice” concepts, boundary-building and political structuring, starting with work by my two teachers – Prof. Stefano Bartolini and Prof. Peter Flora – to whom I owe a great deal intellectually and personally, and to whom I wish to express grateful thanks on this occasion. What is astonishing about Stein Rokkan is that by looking at the past he continuously points to the future. He will for long remain a deeply relevant thinker, and his message – rather than being yesterday’s half remembered lesson – provides an indispensable guide to progress in our modest future intellectual efforts. Thank you.