Congruence between voters and parties: The role of party‐level issue salience
The level of congruence between parties and their voters can vary greatly from one policy issue to another, which raises questions regarding the effectiveness of political representation. We seek to explain variation in party–voter congruence across issues and parties.
- Rory Costello, Dimiter Toshkov, Barend Bos & André Krouwel
- 25 January 2021
- European Journal of Political Research
We focus on the hypotheses that (1) average proximity between the positions of voters and the party they vote for will be highest on the issues that the party emphasises in the election campaign and that (2) this relationship will be stronger for niche parties. We test these hypotheses using data on the policy preferences of voters, party positions, party attention profiles and salience on concrete policy issues in four countries: The Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Sweden. Overall, we find that voter–party proximity tends to be higher on issues that the party emphasises. As these are the issues where parties typically have the greatest policy impact, this implies that the quality of representation is highest where it matters most. There is some limited evidence that the positive relationship between issue salience and proximity is stronger for niche parties. In sum, the quality of policy representation varies strongly with party‐level issue salience and to a lesser extent with the type of political party.
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