Dr S.L. de Lange (1981) has been named professor by special appointment of the Dr J.M. den Uyl Chair at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The chair was established on behalf of the Wiardi Beckman Foundation. De Lange will succeed Prof. Frank Vandenbroucke, who took up a new position as University Professor at the UvA in October 2015.
In her capacity as professor by special appointment, Sarah de Lange will be researching the ideological, organisational and strategic challenges facing Western European social democratic parties. She will also be exploring possible solutions and assessing their effectiveness.
The emphasis will be on assessing social democratic parties' various responses to the success of radical right-wing populist parties and the popularity of green and social liberal parties. Her comparative research will focus on Western European nations that resemble the Netherlands in political terms, such as Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Norway, Austria and Sweden. She will examine whether social democratic parties' efforts to strengthen ties with their electorate by means of organisational innovations – such as the use of open primaries – are closing the gap between more and less educated voters, or widening it.
De Lange's new area of focus connects seamlessly to her ongoing research projects. She has been studying shifts in Western European politics for years, with an emphasis on the emergence of new social divides and their impact on political parties and systems in Western Europe. As she has demonstrated in previous studies, Western European social democratic parties are currently engaged in an awkward balancing act, with both libertarian-cosmopolitan and authoritarian nationalist parties hot on their heels on issues such as immigration and integration. The social democratic parties' initial response, which mainly consisted of a policy shift in the direction of radical right-wing populist parties, has seen them lose voters to green and social liberal parties. These electoral shifts and changing positions have subsequently affected the formation of coalitions, making it more difficult to form left-leaning majority governments.
De Lange has extensive educational experience, and teaches subjects such as party politics, political structures and processes and methodology. The subjects of Western European social democracy, and broader developments on the left, are also set to feature prominently in De Lange's lectures.
De Lange has worked at the UvA's Political Science Department since 2008, where she has served as a senior university lecturer since 2014. Prior to joining the UvA, she was affiliated with the European University Institute's Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies (Florence) on the basis of a Jean Monnet fellowship. De Lange has also served on the Council for Public Administration since 2011, where she advises the Dutch parliament and government and various administrative organisations on the current state of Dutch democracy. She also serves as a member of the Supervisory Council of ProDemos (House for Democracy and the Rule of Law).