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Create Your Political Party!

Political parties play a major role in democratic processes around the world. Parties identify the needs and concerns of the people by interacting with the public at different levels of society, motivate people to participate in the electoral process, and are crucial to the operation of government and opposition.

At the same time, it is often said that political parties experience a crisis. Parties are increasingly confronted with electoral volatility and vote switching, and lower turnout at elections has become common in many countries. Traditional political parties lose members and have been challenged by populist politicians or ‘parties-as-movements’ such as Podemos in Spain or the Five Star Movement in Italy.

You may have thought to yourself: ‘Hey, I can do better than that’! Then this studio offers you the opportunity to do so.

In the first part of the course, we will first discuss what a political party is and what the dominant political ideologies are. Subsequently, we will examine different kinds of political parties with distinct political goals and forms of organization. Lastly, we will discuss the changing nature of political support for political parties. In the second part of the course, students will apply their knowledge to create their own party – with their own party manifesto and campaign material! By doing so, you will try to formulate an answer to the question what a successful political party of the future should look like.

Group assignment

Your group assignment is to create a political party with a defined ideology, and then launch an election campaign. Each group (with 3-4 students) will tackle the following tasks:

- You will build a political party platform or manifesto (statement of ideas, policies, and beliefs) reflecting a clear political ideology for the Dutch parliamentary election in 2024. Each group must explore and formulate policies on some of the major issues facing Dutch citizens.

- Describe and provide a detailed explanation of the political goals of the party.

- Delineate which electorate your party targets and how you aim to reach it.

- In order to inform the public of your new party, you will have to design a strategy for gaining voter support, e.g. a campaign poster, an election speech, online campaigning.


Each group should hand in the following deliverables at the end of the course.

  1. A party manifesto that outlines the party’s policy position on a full range of issues. (Required length: ca. 5000 words)
  2. Two forms of party campaign output (i.e. a social media campaign, poster, election speech, election video). Please note that you should choose two different forms of output.
  3. Theoretical reflection on the project by discussing their choice of party ideology, party type, and campaign strategy. The theoretical reflection should critically discuss the project with the knowledge on political parties acquired in the course. (Required length: ca. 2000 words)


The details of the excursion will be announced at a later stage.

Maurits J. Meijers (Political Science)
Andrej Zaslove (Political Science)
Casper Kirkels (Honours Academy)

Study materials

See below, the literature will be made available via Brightspace


The meetings will take place on Monday evenings from 18.30 until 21.00.
(Note, the first meeting starts at 18.00)

1. Introduction: Political Parties and Representation- 20 September

  • General introduction of the studio
  • Introduction to political parties and party competition
  • Getting to know each other
  • Introducing the assignment

2. What is Your Ideology I: The Right - 27 September

  • Discussion of liberalism and liberal parties
  • Discussion of conservativism and conservative parties
  • Discussion of Christian democracy and Christian democratic parties


  • Heywood, A. (2017 or 2021). Political ideologies: An introduction. Macmillan International Higher Education. Excerpts from Ch. 2 and 3.
  • Kalyvas, S. N., & Van Kersbergen, K. (2010). Christian democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, 13, 183-209. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.021406.172506

3. What is Your Ideology II: The Left - 4 October

  • Discussion of socialism and social democracy
  • Discussion of ecology
  • Discussion of social democratic parties, new (radical) left parties, and green parties


4. What Kind of Party: Mainstream & Niche Parties - 11 October

  • Discussion of different party types and their role in politics
  • Discussion of parties’ different goals in politics
  • Workshop interdisciplinarity by Casper Kirkels


5. Party Organization: How Is Your Party Organized? - 18 October

  • Discussion of the political party and its relationship with society
  • Exploring different kinds of party organization: cadre parties, mass parties, catch-all parties, and new forms of parties


  • Katz, R. S., & Mair, P. (1995). Changing models of party organization and party democracy: the emergence of the cartel party. Party politics, 1(1), 5-28.

6. Political Cleavages: Finding your Voters - 8 November

  • Discussion of the structure of voting
  • Discussion of societal and political cleavage
  • Examining political opportunities for a new party


7. Work and Feedback Session - 15 November

Students work in subgroups on their topic

8. Work and Feedback Session - 22 November

Students work in subgroups on their topic

9. Work and Feedback Session - 29 November

Students work in subgroups on their topic

10. Final Group Project Presentations - 6 December

Students present their projects

Deadline assignment: 20 December