Anna Adendorf
Talk Dirty to Me: Coalition Signals throughout the Electoral Cycle

Workshop "Party Competition in the Electoral Cycle", (virtual), 04. Dezember 2020

With coalition governments being the norm in proportional systems, parties announce their mating preferences during the electoral campaign, i.e., they send coalition signals in order to present voters with a viable choice. When and how parties talk about each other, and how they signal their preferred coalitions is of particular interest to our understanding of dynamics in multi-party politics. We expect there to be different patterns for different party pairs and over time. First, members of potential coalitions that are likely to have a majority, whose partners are ideologically close or that are the incumbent coalition are more likely to mention each other positively. Second, during the legislative term, opposition parties will send mostly negative signals towards the government parties in order to put themselves in a favourable position. The coalition members will deviate from this pattern by sending more positive signals to one another in an attempt to protect government unity. I test these expectations using quantitative text analysis of more than 13,000 press releases published by the German party groups between 2002 and 2005. The findings reveal parties' strategies of communicating their coalition preferences throughout the whole electoral cycle in proportional systems.