Party Policy Ambiguity and its Consequences for Political Representation and Satisfaction with Democracy

Research question/goal: 

Political parties often take ambiguous policy stances. This project investigates how citizens respond to them with respect to three central questions: Under what circumstance do citizens realize that a party’s policy stances are ambiguous? To what extent does this affect citizens’ vote choices? And do citizens feel more or less represented by ambiguous parties?

To answer these questions, we conduct survey experiments and comparative surveys in several European democracies.

Our results promise to contribute to our understanding of how democracies can generate democratic representation. In particular, we aim to provide novel insights into whether elections, i.e. the key mechanism to ensure that democracies represent their citizens well, are actually able to foster democratic representation in the context of party policy ambiguity. At the same time, we explore whether the use of ambiguous policy stances takes a toll on citizens’ satisfaction with democracy.

Current stage: 

The project team is currently focussing on the data collection. Specifically, we are developing and programming a questionnaire, which will be validated in pretests in Germany and the UK. Following the pretests, an adjusted version of the questionnaire will be translated into several languages, implemented in specialised survey software, and fielded shortly thereafter.

Fact sheet

MZES; Baden-Württemberg Stiftung
2022 to 2024
Data Sources: 
Comparative surveys and survey experiments
Geographic Space: 
Several European countries