This project explores the relationship between trade unions and social democratic parties. Its primary purpose is to examine how the union-social democratic party relationship drives party policy choice while the party is in government. The project proceeds under the frame that the union-social democratic party linkage is best characterized as an exchange relationship between rational actors. I hypothesize that the more unions are able to provide electoral advantage to the social democratic party, the more that party's industrial relations policy will be favourable to unions. This hypothesis is explored through a comparative case study method. The cases selected are that of the Australian Labor Party’s period in government 2007-2013, and the British Labour Party’s period in government 1997-2010. The project’s analysis of these cases provides some support for the hypothesis, while also demonstrating the need for further research across a larger number of cases to provide a rigorous test of the hypothesis and better understanding of the underlying dynamics.
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