Party Competition and Policy Outcomes in Multilevel Systems

Research question/goal: 

The aim of this project is to analyse the determinants and implications of party competition in the regional sphere in European multilevel systems. In doing so, the project addresses three main research questions. First, do parties on the sub-national level respond to the structural characteristics and ideological orientations of the regional electorate when formulating their election manifestos? In a second step, the project will deal with the question of what impact European regional policy and funding, the different types of regional authority, the patterns of national party competition and the programmatic profiles of sub-national parties have on the outcome of the coalition formation and portfolio allocation processes at the regional level. Third, the project seeks to analyse the impact of regional governments and their partisan composition on policy outputs. To answer these questions, the project builds on theories relating to party competition and government formation in multilevel systems and the principal-agent approach. To test our hypotheses, we use a data set that covers information on issue saliencies and policy positions of political parties at the regional and the national level in nine European states.

Current stage: 

The project team has expanded the data collection by including further programmatic documents from recent sub-national elections in the European countries under study, i.e. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The collected documents of political parties were uploaded at the online archive, which is updated continually with the support of the MZES Data & Methods Unit. On the basis of the collected party manifesto data, we are currently working on a new edition of the book “Parteienwettbewerb in den deutschen Bundesländern“ (“Party competition in the German states”) and—together with colleagues from the Universities of Bremen, Frankfurt and Hamburg—on a grant proposal that aims to expand the data collection for Germany and also cover the period since 1949.

Fact sheet

2011 to 2021
Data Sources: 
Survey Data, Social Structural Data, Election Manifestos and Coalition Agreements, Budgetary Data
Geographic Space: 
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom



Bräuninger, Thomas, Marc Debus, Jochen Müller and Christian Stecker (2020): Parteienwettbewerb in den deutschen Bundesländern. 2., vollständig überarbeitete Auflage, Wiesbaden: Springer VS. more