Party competition in regional elections The strategies of state-wide parties in Spain and the United Kingdom

Liselotte Libbrecht, Bart Maddens, Wilfried Swenden


This article focuses on the electoral strategies of state-wide parties (SWPs) with regard to centre–periphery issues in regional elections. It applies Meguid’s Position–Salience–Ownership (PSO) theory to regional electoral competition in Spain and the United Kingdom. We anticipate that SWPs will seek to vary their strategies, especially in regional elections where they face fierce competition from regionalist parties. We also expect their strategies to be influenced by the SWPs' strategy in state-wide elections. The analysis reveals that the key assumptions of the PSO stack up quite well when applied to regional elections. It also reveals the influence of the multi-layered institutional context in which SWPs compete: at the regional level, said parties do not necessarily adopt the most logical strategy according to the PSO theory if this runs counter to the prevailing SWP strategy at the state-wide level.