Related Publication: Where Is My Party?

Markus Baumann, Marc Debus and Martin Gross
Economic hardship and unemployment policy saliency in parties’ election campaign statements


We argue that parties should develop an issue profile which is consistent between their long standing issue linkages and their electoral campaigns. Yet, to react to voter demands resulting from economic hardship and unemployment, we expect parties to respond strategically in their messages during the final weeks of an election campaign, in which an increasing share of citizens make up their minds in terms of which party they will choose. To test this notion empirically, we draw on a novel dataset that covers information on the statements of party representatives in nine European countries during the respective last four weeks of an election campaign before and after the outbreak of the European debt crisis. We find evidence for our expectations that parties’ campaign priorities are in line with their long-standing issue linkages and that they emphasize the issue of unemployment during their election campaigns if this provides them with a chance to cater to their core voter clientele or an opportunity to blame the governing parties for the increases in unemployment.