LPTU project

Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions across the World

From 2012 to 2015, Elin H. Allern and Tim Bale managed and carried out a “pilot study” of the relationship between left-of-centre parties and trade unions (LPTU). The aim was to map and study variation in party-union relationships in old democracies. A network of experts on parties and trade unions in 12 countries that have been democracies since at least the mid- to late-1940s finished the data collection in the autumn of 2013. 

Research Design

The party focus of this study is the social democratic/labour/socialist/communist parties associated with the historic labour movement. This means that ‘old’ left-of-centre parties are included, while new left parties – for instance, those that first got going in the 1970s – are excluded. But if splinter groups from old left parties have established new significant left parties (after the Second World War), these have been included as well as they can be argued to have roots in the old labour movement. 

The LPTU project includes both old unions and unions that have been founded (sometimes as the result of mergers of older unions) relatively recently. At the same time, it focuses on peak associations. Hence, in each country all today’s union confederations are included no matter when they were founded. For exceptions due to few or weak peak associations, see Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The datasets created are based on multiple sources. First, each country expert collected and mapped the statutes of all organizational units involved in their case, and also searched for other relevant organizational documents (like annual reports) and reliable secondary sources. Second, when mapping links beyond those regulated by statutes, we elicited both information and evaluations through questionnaires – mainly about organizational facts – sent to key informants in both parties and the union confederations/unions. Third, biographical data were – if available – collected from encyclopaedias and the website of Parliament/MPs the winter/spring of 2014 to see what proportion of them who hold or have held positions (as officials or staff) in different trade unions. 

The party-union questionnaires and codebooks are made available on this website. For access to party-union survey data sets with data file information, contact Elin H. Allern at e.h.allern@stv.uio.no.

For details on the case selection, documentation of the party-union surveys (incl. timing and response rates) and information about the biographical data, see:  Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds). Left-of-centre Parties and Trade Unions in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


The project at large has received a “Småforsk”-grant from the Research Council of Norway/University of Oslo.

How to Cite the Data Sets

Allern, Elin H. and Tim Bale (2017, eds): Left-of-Centre Parties and Trade Unions in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press.