Issue Evolution in Multiparty Systems

Research question/goal: 

Issue evolution has been studied extensively for the US plurality system. For proportional systems, however, the game of political competition is much more complex. We still know little about how issue evolution works in multiparty systems, and in what aspects it differs from issue evolution in plurality systems. The project will address this gap by studying whether the emergence of immigration as a salient policy issue is the result of a tactical manoeuvre by radical right parties. Connecting to the literature on issue evolution it will investigate theoretically and empirically when and why new issues emerge and become sufficiently salient to restructure the policy space. The contribution of the project is twofold, by first providing a theory of political competition that considers position taking and issue emphasizing as party strategies. Second, it will generate empirical insights, by testing observable implications of the theory.

Current stage: 

We are currently focusing on the measurement of policy spaces for West European electorates to determine the number and content of relevant issue dimensions. The results show that the number and content of these dimensions varies over time and between countries. Furthermore, we are developing and validating a method to combine voters’ policy preferences from survey data with party positions from expert surveys to model individual level voting behaviour. Two conference papers are being prepared to be submitted for presentation at the 2022 EPSA conference.

Fact sheet

2020 to 2024
Data Sources: 
National election surveys
Geographic Space: 
Western Europe