The project is based on the assumption that in times of fiscal crisis governments must turn to something else than programmatic politics when attempting to secure a level of popular support sufficient to remain in power. It shall answer the question to what extent political parties and personnel in countries severely affected by the recent European fiscal crisis react by intensifying non-programmatic linkages with voters or particular groups of voters respectively. Non-programmatic politics is based on strategies that do either not include public criteria for the distribution of resources or violate publicly stated criteria in actual practice in favor of partisan bias. The existence of a link between fiscal crisis and non-programmatic politics has been noted in the literature on neoliberal reforms in Latin American countries. In contrast, with regard to European parties the role of such strategies for mobilizing voters has been largely neglected or relegated to specialized analyses that do not feed back into our general conception of political processes in European countries.
The project aims to close this research gap using a systems-theoretical approach to politics, which focuses on the threefold relationship between the political public, party politics and public administration. It will compare four critical cases, which have been known for variants of non-programmatic politics in the past, namely Great Britain, Ireland, Spain and Greece.