Why do political parties represent the interests of some groups, and not others? This paper demonstrates the importance of electoral geography to new party formation through a historical analysis of the Norwegian Labor Party. Here, by focusing on the timing of Labor’s entry and the location of its early contests, it becomes clear that Labor’s decision to enter electoral competition reflected new opportunities—changes in costs and benefits of competition—rather than the emergence of new demands or grievances. This analysis suggests, therefore, that an answer to the question of why some groups, and not others, are represented by political parties, lies in understanding who (which groups) have benefitted from changes in electoral geography.
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