forthcoming “Still Blurry? Economic Salience, Position, and Voting for Radical Right Parties in Western Europe"
European Journal of Political Research
(with Jonathan Polk)
Do radical right parties present blurry economic stances, or have they clarified their positions while moving towards the economic left? This paper questions the strategic behavior of radical right parties in western Europe. We show that although radical right parties have increased their discussion of economic issues, and expert placements of this party family on the economic dimension have become more centrist over time, the uncertainty surrounding these placements continues to be higher for the radical right than any other party family in Europe. We then move on to examine to what extent voter-party congruence on redistribution, immigration, and other issues of social lifestyle predict an individual's propensity to vote for the radical right compared to other parties. Although redistribution is the component of economic policy where the radical right seems to be centrist, our findings indicate that it remains party-voter congruence on immigration that drives support for radical right parties, while the congruence level for redistribution has an insignificant effect. The paper concludes that while radical right parties seem to have included some clearly left-leaning economic proposals, which shifted the general expert views of these parties to the economic center, their overall economic profiles remain as blurry as ever.
Comparative Political Studies
(with Filip Kostelka)
Multiple studies in political science consistently hold that left-wing ideology renders individuals more prone to protest behavior. However, the familiar association between left-wing ideology and protesting is not empirically corroborated in all democratic nations. Building on existing theoretical principles and applying them to diverse political contexts, this paper sheds light on puzzling variation in protest behavior across new and old democracies. It argues that it is not the left that engenders protest. Instead, we demonstrate that which political camp engages in protest behavior depends on its historical legacies and cultural liberalism. Historical legacies reflect the ideological configuration at democratization. Protesting tends to be more common in the ideological camp that opposed the pre-democratic political order. As for cultural liberalism, it is culturally liberal individuals that more likely embrace protest participation, independent of their left-right identication. These theoretical expectations are supported through individual-level survey data analyses, explaining contrasting patterns in protesting between Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe, as well as finer variation within these regions.
(with Stephen Whitefield)
We start from the premise that the content of political competition is regularly remade by shifting contexts and by the strategic activity of political actors including parties. But while there are naturally thousands of potential issues on which politics can be contested, there are in practice and for good reasons ways in which structure and limits come to reduce the competition to more cognitively manageable and regularized divisions – in short, to issue dimensions. It is highly timely to return to these questions since, we argue, the social, political and economic turbulence of recent years raises the possibility that the ideological structure to how parties present themselves to voters may be radically shifting. The papers in this special issue, therefore, each tackle an important aspect of the shifting character of the issues that underlie party competition in various European settings. In this article, we provide an overview of the relevant ‘state-of-the-art’ on issue dimensionality and how the subject is situated within the broad framework of understanding party competition.
(with Jonathan Polk)
In Europe, non-economic political issues are seen as secondary, but significant, sources of political competition. There is, however, disagreement about the extent to which these issues form a coherent political dimension. This paper addresses the extent to which this ‘other’ dimension frames political conflict across Europe. Using expert and public opinion surveys, we first explore the content and compactness of political issues that are argued to form the non-economic dimension. We find consistent evidence across multiple data sources of systematic variance in the importance of this dimension in different European party systems. Despite the rise of new cultural issues, our results indicate that Lipset and Rokkan’s cleavage theory provides strikingly powerful predictors of the significance of the ‘other’ dimension in contemporary political competition.
(with Allison E. Rovny)
Recently, developed economies have witnessed an emerging dualism between the so-called labor market ‘insiders and outsiders’—two groups facing divergent levels of employment security and prospects. Those on the ‘inside’ occupy stable jobs, while those on the ‘outside’ confront increased levels of social and economic risks. There are, however, various prominent, but divergent, operationalizations of the insider–outsider phenomenon. While some scholars opt for indicators rooted in current labor market status of individuals, others prefer to consider occupational class groups as bases of the insider–outsider divide. As these operationalizations of outsiderness capture different profiles of outsiders, we test the extent to which they lead to consistent or inconsistent conclusions about electoral behavior. The article yields two consistent findings that are robust across all the operationalizations: that outsiders are less likely to vote for major right parties than are insiders, and that out- siders are more likely to abstain from voting. Additionally, we find that occupation-based outsiders tend to support radical right parties, while status-based outsiders rather opt for radical left parties—a finding supported by the association between social risk and authoritarian preferences. We test our expectations using multinomial logit models estimating vote choice on the first five waves of the European Social Survey from 2002 to 2010 across western Europe.
European Journal of Political Research
(with Jonathan Polk)
Party competition in Eastern Europe faces a seeming paradox. On the one hand, research finds increased political volatility in these countries, while, on the other, some authors demonstrate inherent ideological stability in the region. This research note presents a new methodological approach to adjudicating between these two findings, and suggests that while political organisations come and go, the ideological structure of party competition in Eastern Europe is strikingly steady. By developing a number of different measures of the dimensional structure of party competition, the consistency of the measures across countries, as well as their relative stability within countries over time, is demonstrated. The findings speak to current developments in Eastern Europe, and have implications beyond the region. The conclusion that even volatile party systems can be underpinned by stable ideological oppositions points to two different types of party system structure: one related to parties as organisations, and the other related to parties as expressions of political divides.
Party Politics 21(6)
This special issue studies the strategic interaction between major state-wide and regional parties in a political setting defined by multiple, potentially cross-cutting, political issues pertaining to the economy and the territorial organization of multi-national states. Through this framework, this special issue locates itself decisively in the behaviorist tradition of studying political competition. Stemming from the classical works of Riker and the Rochester school, and focusing on rational choice models, this tradition has influenced a lively literature on party strategies. This concluding article of the special issue argues that the findings of the substantive contributions create a bridge between the strategic, Rikerian literature they stem from and seek to engage with, and more sociological approaches to the study of political parties that focus on the structural features of politics reaching back to the works of Lipset and Rokkan. I suggest that, ultimately, this special issue demonstrates the socially, historically and institutionally bounded opportunities of political parties. Fundamentally, the special issue makes a significant contribution to the strategic literature by suggesting structural limits to strategic behavior.
East European Politics and Societies 21(9)
The literature on party competition structure in eastern Europe varies between aggregated large-N studies that propose uniform patterns of party competition across the region on the one hand, and disaggregated, case-focused studies identifying a plurality of country-specific patterns on the other. This article finds that both suffer from theoretical weaknesses. The aggregated works, arguing for common unidimensionality of party competition in the region, overlook significant cross-national differences, while the case-focused works, suggesting country-specific multi-dimensionality, do not identify commonalities. In effect, both sets of research fall short in explaining the variance of the party competition in eastern Europe. This article consequently argues for the importance of bridging these findings of aggregate uniformity and idiosyncratic diversity through the use of refined theoretical explanations of party competition patterns in the region. To demonstrate the plausibility and utility of such an approach, the article builds a theoretical model of party competition in eastern Europe and tests it by estimating the vote for left-wing parties across ten eastern European countries using the 2009 European Election Study.
(with Ryan Bakker, Catherine de Vries, Erica Edwards, Liesbet Hooghe, Seth Jolly, Gary Marks, Jon Polk, Marco Steenbergen and Milada Anna Vachudova)
Party Politics 21(1)
This article reports on the 2010 Chapel Hill expert surveys (CHES), and introduces the CHES trend file, which contain measures of national party positioning on European integration, ideology, and several European Union (EU) and non-EU policies for four waves of the survey, from 1999−2010. We examine the reliability of expert judgments and cross-validate the 2010 CHES data with data from the Comparative Manifesto Project and the 2009 European Elections Studies survey. The dataset is available on the CHES website.
(with Ryan Bakker, Erica Edwards, Seth Jolly, Jon Polk and MarcoSteenbergen)
Research and Politics November-December
Expert surveys have emerged as a valuable instrument to measure party positions in modern democracies (cf. Ray 1999; Benoit and Laver 2006; Hooghe et al. 2010). Some critics question the cross-national comparability of these measures, though, suggesting that expert surveys may lack a secure, common anchor for fundamental concepts such as economic left-right. In short, experts could be using what it means to be centrist in the expert’s own country as the reference point, but centrist in Norway could be more left- leaning than centrist in Italy. Taken to its logical extreme, this problem could confound cross-country comparison. This article analyzes vignette data from the 2010 Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) specifically designed to address this concern. In the survey, experts placed hypothetical and real parties on a series of eleven point scales, which allow an assessment of the extent to which experts in 26 different countries evaluate party positioning with a common metric. We document evidence of cross-national difference in expert ideological placements, especially in some Scandinavian countries. However, in modeling economic left-right with substantive variables of interest with the 2010 CHES data, we find that these rather small country-specific differences do not bias expert placements in a systematic way. Our findings, therefore, provide an important piece of evidence in establishing expert surveys as a rigorous instrument for measuring party positions in a cross-national context.
World Politics 66 (4)
Scholarship on eastern European politics expects that party competition in the region is determined by various communist legacies, juxtaposing state-centric authoritarianism to democratic market economy. Recent empirical evidence, however, uncovers significant variance of party competition patterns across eastern European countries. To explain this variance, this article argues that an interaction between communist institutional framework and partisan responses to ethnic minorities determine party competition structure in eastern Europe. While experience with communist federalism determines partisan affinities with ethnic minorities, tolerance or support for ethnic minorities leads to general social liberal positions. Consequently — and contrary to received knowledge — ethnic politics influence the ideological content of party competition, and structure party systems in eastern Europe.
Comparative European Politics 12 (6)
Eastern Europe has traditionally been a region of emigration, sending thousands of refugees and migrants to the more developed and democratic west. The recent democratization and rising affluence of some eastern European countries, however, make them increasingly attractive destinations of migrant workers, slowly but surely turning them into immigrant societies. This paper addresses the responses of political parties to the issue of immigration and immigrant integration. Through large-N quantitative analyses of eleven eastern European countries using the Chapel Hill Expert Surveys, the 2009 European Election Study, the Database of Political Institutions and World Bank indicators, it analyzes the causes of immigration salience, as well as the reasons behind immigration and integration policy positions. The paper argues that partisan and voter views on immigration in eastern Europe are guided by ideological views on ethnic minorities, which have been the traditional ‘out-groups’ in the region. Partisan positions on immigration and immigrant integration are consequently determined by underlying ideological principles concerning cultural openness and acceptance of ‘otherness’. Immigrants to eastern Europe are consequently viewed as the other ‘other.’
European Political Science Review 5(1)
This article questions the utility of assessing radical right party placement on economic issues, which has been extensively analyzed in academic literature. Starting from the premise that political parties have varying strategic stakes in different political issues, the article considers political competition in multiple issue dimensions. It suggests that political competition is not simply a matter of taking positions on political issues, but rather centers on manipulating the dimensional structure of politics. The core argument is that certain political parties, such as those of the radical right, seek to compete on neglected, secondary issues, while simultaneously blurring their positions on established issues in order to attract broader support. Deliberate position blurring -- considered costly by the literature -- may thus be an effective strategy in multidimensional competition. The article combines quantitative analyses of electoral manifestos, expert placement of political parties, and voter preferences, by studying seventeen radical right parties in nine Western European party systems.
European Union Politics. 13(2)
Most studies consider the presentation of ambiguous positions a costly strategy. This literature, however, does not study party strategies in multiple issue dimensions. Yet multidimensionality may play an important role in partisan strategic calculus. While it may be rational for a party to emphasize a certain issue dimension, it may be equally rational to disguise its stance on other dimensions by blurring its positioning. This article argues that parties employ strategies of issue emphasis and position blurring in various dimensional contexts. Who emphasizes and who blurs thus depends on the actors’ relative stakes in different issue dimensions. The paper makes its case by performing cross-sectional analyses of 132 political parties in 14 Western European party systems using Comparative Manifesto Project data, the 2006 Chapel Hill expert survey and the 2009 European Election Study.
(with Erica Edwards).
East European Politics and Societies 26(1)
This article analyzes the impact of party strategies on the issue structure, and consequently the dimensional structure, of party systems across europe. Conceptualizing political competition in two dimensions (economic left-right and social traditionalism versus liberalism), the authors demonstrate that political parties in both eastern and Western europe contest the issue composition of political space. The authors argue that large, mainstream parties are invested in the dimensional status quo, preferring to compete on the primary dimension by emphasizing economic issues. Systematically disadvantaged niche parties, conversely, prefer to compete along a secondary dimension by stressing social issues. adopting such a strategy enables niche parties to divert voter attention and challenge the structure of conflict between the major partisan competitors. The authors test these propositions using the 2006 iteration of the Chapel Hill expert Surveys on Party Positions. Findings indicate that while the structure of political conflict in eastern versus Western europe could not be more different, the logic with which parties compete in their respective systems is the same. The authors conclude that political competition is primarily a struggle over dimensionality; it does not merely occur along issue dimensions but also over their content.
(with Liesbet Hooghe, Ryan Bakker, Anna Brigevich, Catherine de Vries, Erica Edwards, Gary Marks and Marco Steenbergen).
European Journal of Political Research 49(4)
This research note reports on the 2002 and 2006 Chapel Hill Expert Surveys (CHES) which measure national party positioning on European integration, ideology, and several EU and non- EU policies. The reliability of expert judgments is examined and the CHES data are crossvalidated with data from the comparative manifesto project, the 2003 Benoit-Laver expert survey, and the 2002 Rohrschneider-Whitefield survey. The dataset is available on the CHES website.