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

Author(s)
Thomas Meyer, Markus Wagner
Abstract

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.

Organisation(s)
Department of Government
Journal
West European Politics
Volume
37
Pages
1019-1045
No. of pages
27
ISSN
0140-2382
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1080/01402382.2014.911483
Publication date
06-2014
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506014 Comparative politics
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Political Science and International Relations
Portal url
https://ucrisportal.univie.ac.at/en/publications/which-issues-do-parties-emphasise-salience-strategies-and-party-organisation-in-multiparty-systems(83d4771b-ae32-43c3-a6d8-03a6112defe6).html