Party Competition and Policy Outcomes in Multilevel Systems
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 dataset that covers information on issue saliencies and policy positions of political parties at the regional and the national level in nine European states.
The project is currently in the stage of expanding the existent dataset by including programmatic documents from recent subnational elections in the nine European countries under study, i.e. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Since this project is part of the COHESIFY consortium, which focusses in particular on Southern and Eastern Europe, we collected and analysed election manifestos for the Italian, Slovenian, Hungarian, and Romanian case. In addition, we widened the theoretical scope of the project by incorporating incentives from European regional policy on the programmatic position-taking of regional parties and governments. Research findings were presented at the ECPR General Conference in Prague and at COHESIFY workshops in Glasgow and Warsaw. These working papers are currently being prepared for submission to peer-reviewed journals.