Which issues do parties emphasise? Salience strategies and party organisation in multiparty systems

Veröffentlichungen: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelPeer Reviewed


Party system issue agendas are formed by the topics that individual parties decide to address, and these salience decisions are likely to be strategic. Two key strategies are commonly discussed in the literature: parties' focus on (1) issues that they have ownership over and (2) issues that currently concern voters. Yet it is not known what explains the extent to which parties pursue each of these strategies. This paper argues that aspects of party organisation influence which salience strategy is pursued. Parties that have more resources will be able to 'ride the wave' of current concerns while parties with fewer resources are more likely to focus on their best issues. Furthermore, policy-seeking parties with strong activist influence will be less likely to 'ride the wave' and more likely to follow issue ownership strategies. An analysis of 105 election manifestos from 27 elections in 17 countries shows that aspects of party organisation are indeed strong and robust moderators of issue ownership strategies. Limited, albeit mixed, evidence is also found that party organisation affects the use of 'riding the wave' strategies. These results have important implications for our understanding of electoral campaigns, party competition and voter representation.

Seiten (von - bis)1019-1045
FachzeitschriftWest European Politics
Frühes Online-Datum2 Juni 2014
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2014

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