Explaining Voter Responses to Mainstream Parties' Moderation Strategies

02.10.2017 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Jonathan Polk, Ph.D.
Lecturer affiliation: 
Universität Göteborg

To what extent does moderation in ideological positioning by mainstream parties affect their short and long-term electoral fortunes? Do electorates treat the major parties of the center- left and center-right differently when these types of parties move to the middle? Our previ- ous research reported that social democratic parties received an influx of centrist voters post- moderation, but that these new centrist voters were less attached to the party and left in later elections, as did left-leaning social democrats frustrated by moderation strategies. The present paper further probes whether there is a link between moderation and individual voters’ shifts away from mainstream parties at a later point. We examine individual-level data on voting behavior combined with information on mainstream parties’ ideological shifts in 66 elections in 13 countries over several decades. The findings suggest that moderation strategies do not drive away voters one election after a party moderated. Yet, we also find evidence that core and centrist voters respond differently to moderation strategies, with additional differences across the economic and social dimensions of electoral competition. The findings have implications for the study of voters’ responses to party positioning.