Research In Progress

Working Papers

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.

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. Pre- vious 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 representa- tional 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.

New Wine in Old Bottles: Explaining Party Competition Along the Socio-Cultural Dimension in Europe. (with Jan Rovny) [PDF]

In Europe, non-economic political issues are seen as secondary, but significant, sources of political competition. There is uncertainty, however, about the sources of its varying significance in politics. This paper addresses the extent to which this ‘other’ dimension frames political conflict across western Europe. Using expert surveys and country-level data, we first explore the contemporary content of the non-economic dimension. We find evidence of variance in the importance of this dimension in different party systems, which we explain through the role of historical religious conflict. Despite the rise of new cultural issues, historical religious divides provide strikingly powerful predictors of the significance of the socio-cultural dimension in contemporary political competition of western Europe.