Research In Progress

Working Papers

Explaining Voter Responses to Mainstream Parties’ Moderation Strategies. (with Johannes Karreth) [PDF]

To what extent does moderation in ideological positioning by mainstream parties affect their
short and long-term electoral fortunes? Do electorates treat the major parties of the center-left
and center-right differently when these types of parties move to the middle? Previous research
suggests that social democratic parties received an influx of centrist voters post-moderation,
but that these new centrist voters were less attached to the party and left in later elections,
as did left-leaning social democrats frustrated by moderation strategies. This paper further
probes whether there is a link between moderation and individual voters’ shifts to and from
mainstream parties at a later point. We examine individual-level data on voting behavior com-
bined with information on mainstream parties’ ideological shifts in 72 elections in 16 countries
over several decades. The findings clearly show that (a) moderation can have detrimental con-
sequences in the longer term; (b) the consequences of moderation differ across major left and
right parties; and (c) core and fickle voters respond differently to moderation strategies, with
additional differences across the left-right and social dimensions of electoral competition.

Party Responsiveness to Public Opinion in New European Democracies. (with Raimondas Ibenskas) [PDF]

Understanding whether and how political parties respond to the ideological preferences of the public is essential for the study of democratic representation. Research from Western Europe suggests that parties follow shifts in either the mean voter position or the mean position of party supporters. Combining CHES data on parties’ policy positions and ESS data on voters’ positions between 2002-2014, we extend these arguments to Eastern Europe. We find no evidence that parties follow shifts in the mean voter position, mean independent voter position, or the mean party voter position. Instead, parties follow changes in the mean partisan supporter position, particularly parties in which actors other than the national leadership are involved in setting the party’s electoral strategy and policy. Our finding, that CEE parties respond to preference shifts of their core constituencies as measured by partisanship rather than recalled vote, is important for understanding representational processes in these newer democracies.

A Break in the Representative Chain: When Ideological Disagreement with Candidates Spurs Demands for Intra-Party Democracy. (with Ann-Kristin Kölln)

Two of the major developments in European party organizations in the last decades are the almost-universal decline of party membership and the expansion of membership rights. The combination of both developments mean that today’s party members have more intra-party powers and higher chances of standing for political offices than ever before. In this chapter, we combine recent party membership surveys in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden with data from the Comparative Candidate Surveys in the same Scandinavian countries to study the extent to which the chain of representation within parties affects demands for intra-party democracy. Our findings suggest that Scandinavian party members are not systematically more extreme than their parties’ candidates for parliament, but that larger member-candidate incongruence in ideology as well as on particular issues is associated with greater demand for membership voice within the party decision-making structure.

Making Space. A Cross-Country Comparison of Party and Interest Group Positioning in Multiple Policy Dimensions. (with Frida Boräng and Daniel Naurin)

Party politics in European democracies is increasingly multidimensional. Although the left- right ‘super dimension’ continues to structure central aspects of party competition, the extent to which the most important issues of the day map onto left-right varies substantially across countries and over time. Recently, the interest group literature has taken a similar multidimensional turn. In this paper, we propose further connecting the research on parties, interest groups, and multidimensional policy spaces. Prior work on the relationship between interest groups and political parties has focused overwhelmingly on agreement on the left- right dimension. We build on this by examining the compatibility of party and group positions on the socio-cultural or so-called “Gal-Tan” dimension. Empirically we make use of an original cross-national survey of interest groups, which includes questions on the self- placement of groups on the left-right and Gal-Tan dimensions. The configuration of groups on these dimensions are matched and compared with Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) data on parties. Our findings have important ramifications for the representativeness of political parties and interest groups as the two main aggregators of citizen and organisational policy preferences.

Is Social Left/Right Cross-Nationally Comparable in European Parties? (with Ryan Bakker and Seth Jolly) [PDF] [Slides]

Using survey vignettes and scaling techniques, we estimate a common social left/right dimension for political parties across the member states of the European Union. Previous research shows that economic left/right travels well across the EU, meaning that the placements of parties on that dimension are cross-nationally comparable; how- ever, the social dimension is more complex, with different issues forming the core of the social dimension in different countries. The 2014 wave of the Chapel Hill Expert Survey includes anchoring vignettes which we use as “bridge votes” to place parties from different countries on a common social left/right dimension. We estimate the dimension using the “blackbox” technique. The resulting scale offers a cross-nationally comparable interval-level measure of a party’s social left/right ideological position.

Multidimensional Congruence and European Parliament Vote Switching. (with Ryan Bakker and Seth Jolly) [PDF]

Does ideological incongruence hurt parties in elections? Research on the representational relationship between parties and voters suggests that ideological congruence can boost a party’s electoral prospects. However, while the mechanism is at the individual- level, most of the literature focuses on the party-level. In this paper, we shift the focus to individuals, develop a set of hypotheses based on a multidimensional conception of party-voter congruence, and examine the electoral consequences of these varying congruence levels in the 2014 EP elections. Consistent with our expectations, we find that ideological incongruence is a significant factor in voting behavior in the European Parliament elections.