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 already existing dataset by including programmatic documents from recent sub-national 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. In addition, we widened the theoretical perspective of the project by incorporating incentives from European regional policy on programmatic position-taking of regional parties and governments. Research findings were presented at international conferences and published in international journals. The project was part of the Horizon2020 grant proposal “The Impact of Cohesion Policy on EU Identification” (COHESIFY), which was submitted to the European Commission in June 2015 and got positively evaluated in October 2015.