Party Politics in Bicameral Systems: the Balance of Power Affects Regional Campaigning Strategies

28.05.2018 - 12:00 bis 13:30
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Art der Veranstaltung: 
AB B-Kolloquium
Prof. Ann-Kristin Kölln
Zugehörigkeit des Vortragenden: 
Aarhus University

During the election campaign, parties fight over voters’ support. Their campaign expenses are some of the primary resources to facilitate this competitive behaviour. While most research has been concerned with the effects of spending, very few studies have investigated the determinants. In this paper, I argue that next to election- or context-specific factors, also the idiosyncrasies of the political system influence parties’ campaign expenses. I propose that in federal systems with strong bicameralism and staggered elections, parties’ campaign expenses in regional elections are influenced by the balance of power in the two national chambers. Following an instrumental perspective, parties have strong incentives to influence the balance of power in the regional chamber. Dissimilar party majorities in the two chambers can block the legislative process, while similar party majorities have the opposite effect. The results of regional elections directly influence the composition of the regional chamber. Therefore, depending on the governing coalition in the first chamber and the margin of power in the regional chamber, parties have incentives to spend extra money on winning a regional election. I test my argument on a new dataset on regional parties’ campaign expenses in the German Länder between 1994 and 2016. It covers 81 regional elections in 16 Länder. Preliminary results generally indicate that, in some instances, regional elections can escape their second-order nature.