Spatial Models of Party Competition Applied

Research question/goal: 

An application of spatial models of party competition presupposes the construction of policy spaces which encompass the important policy issues of an election. These are the basis of policy voting by the electorate and of strategic position taking by parties. In addition to policy voting, individual vote functions have to include party valences and long-term commitments of voters to parties. After having estimated such vote functions for several Bundestag elections, our aim is to study equilibrium dynamics of party competition under the impact of mixed electoral systems. For pure electoral systems the folk wisdom is that first past the post induces centripetal party movements, and proportional representation induces centrifugal positioning, especially of low-valence parties. Our research question is how voters respond  to the opportunity to cast two ballots and how parties come to terms with the possibly differing equilibrium dynamics of mixed-member electoral systems.

Current stage: 

In 2016, we enlarged the database of our project by collecting information about district candidates of Bundestag elections. For the 2013 candidates, we now have full data on characteristics such as birthplace, current place of residence, occupation, political career, etc. We also built up a panel dataset of individual candidates from 1949 to 2013. Analyses for the 2013 candidates show that direct incumbents and their party successors, having strong local ties, are able to earn extra candidate votes. However, this does not apply to indirect incumbents (challengers), usually lacking local ties, especially when they are current members of the Bundestag. For the first time, even including American studies, our long-term panel allows for the estimation of the personal incumbent effect, defined as the vote bonus an individual legislator receives for the fact of being the incumbent.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2018
Data Sources: 
German Bundestag election surveys since 1980
Geographic Space: 



Kurella, Anna-Sophie (2017): Issue Voting and Party Competition. The Impact of Cleavage Lines on German Elections between 1980-1994. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. [Contributions to Political Science] more