Electoral Research Abstracts - Segnalazioni bibliografiche

Electoral Research Abstracts - Segnalazioni bibliografiche

Electoral Research Abstracts - Segnalazioni bibliografiche

Do parties with different ideological origins adjust their policies in response to the binding commitments that derive from the European integration process? This paper examines whether party platforms have adapted to the ideological content of EU treaty provisions – based on ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘regulated capitalism’ – across a range of policy areas The analysis builds on existing research which has examined how party families respond to the challenges and opportunities of the integration process. This is the first study that focuses on long-term party policy adjustment across different policy areas by examining whether there has been a shift away from core ideological goals towards the direction of EU policy. The main finding is that there has generally been a shift towards the direction of EU policy across all party families in both member and non-member states. The findings have implications for the quality of representation and functioning of democracy in the member states since the deepening of the European integration process reduces ideologically distinct policy alternatives across party families and can hinder policy innovation

Although the over-representation of working-class members among the electorates of Extreme Right Parties (ERPs) in Western Europe is well documented, previous studies have usually explained this pattern as a result of this voter group's changing political preferences. In contrast to these studies, this article argues that it is not the changing political preferences of the working class that lead them to vote for ERPs, but changes in the supply side of party competition that have caused the re-orientation of these voters from left-wing parties toward the extreme right. Differentiating between an economic and a cultural dimension of party competition, it is shown that both the policy options offered by parties to voters as the salience of the two issue-dimensions have changed dramatically over the last three decades. While the salience of economic issues as well as of party system polarization among these issues have declined in most Western European countries, the very opposite trend can be identified for non-economic issues, including the core issues of ERPs (for example, immigration, and law-and-order). These changes on the supply side of party competition cause working-class voters to base their vote decisions solely on their authoritarian, non-economic preferences and not – as in the past – on their left-wing economic demands. The theoretical assumptions are tested empirically with data from the Eurobarometer Trend File for the period from 1980 to 2002. In contexts where the economic dimension is more polarized or more salient than the cultural dimension, the positive impact of being a member of the working class on the vote decision for an ERP is significantly reduced.

Utilizing data that allows for the placement of both of the candidates running and voters on the same ideological scale, I model proximity voting in the 2010 House elections. I demonstrate that though the literature predominantly emphasizes partisanship and incumbency, relative distance from the candidates also plays a significant role in the voting decision. Additionally, I show that these proximity effects are conditional upon the type of candidate running and the individual's partisan attachment. In total, these results show that while the rates of partisan voting and incumbent victory are high in House elections, voters do consider ideological proximity and can punish candidates who take positions that are too far out of line.

The left/right semantic is used widely to describe the patterns of party competition in democratic countries. This article examines the patterns of party policy in Anglo-American and Western European countries on three dimensions of left/right disagreement: wealth redistribution, social morality and immigration. The central questions are whether, and why, parties with left-wing or right-wing positions on the economy systematically adopt left-wing or right-wing positions on immigration and social morality. The central argument is that left/right disagreement is asymmetrical: leftists and rightists derive from different sources, and thus structure in different ways, their opinions about policy. Drawing on evidence from Benoit and Laver’s (2006) survey of experts about the policy positions of political parties, the results of the empirical analysis indicate that party policy on the economic, social and immigration dimensions are bound together by parties on the left, but not by parties on the right. The article concludes with an outline of the potential implications of left/right asymmetry for unified theories of party competition.

A vast literature suggests that voters in new democracies ‘sell’ their vote to patrons providing private or small-scale club goods, or, alternatively, that such goods are distributed along ethnic lines to reinforce ethnic voting. In either case the outcome is undermining democratic accountability. This study finds that citizens in one new democracy – Ghana – expect (and get) the patronage but at the same time engage in economic voting. Eighty-five percent of citizens first and foremost expect their legislators to supply private or small-scale ‘club’ goods. This acts as a strong incentive for politicians to actually supply such goods, which is confirmed by participants’ observational data and more than 250 interviews conducted by the author. Despite this, citizens do not vote based on how well or how poorly incumbent MPs provide clientelistic goods. A multivariate analysis reveals that voting for the opposition or the incumbent is determined by evaluations of the state of the national economy and of the government’s policies. What the literature has portrayed as an ‘either-or’ is ‘both’, and this is perfectly rational: Extract as much as one can in terms of private and small club goods but vote based on economic factors. The literature suggests that clientelism dominates elections in newer democracies and thus undermines democracy. The findings from this study suggest that while distribution of clientelistic goods is common, this does not necessarily undermine the mechanism of democratic accountability in elections.