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 have measured party positions and voter preferences in common policy spaces for many West European countries based on data from the European Values Study (EVS) and the manifesto project. The results of these analyses are summarized in two working papers, which we presented at the EPSA and ECPR conferences and submitted thereafter. The first focusses on opportunity structures for green and right parties in West European policy spaces and is currently being revised for resubmission. The second working paper is on the combination of voter preferences and party positions from different sources and is currently under review. Our next steps are to develop a formal model of political competition, in which parties compete for salience and policy, and to test its implications empirically. This paper will be presented at the MPSA conference in 2023.  

Fact sheet

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