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Living in the past or living in the future? Analyzing parties’ platform change in between elections, the Netherlands 1997–2014


Van Der Velden, Mariken; Schumacher, Gijs; Vis, Barbara (2018). Living in the past or living in the future? Analyzing parties’ platform change in between elections, the Netherlands 1997–2014. Political Communication, 35(3):393-412.

Abstract

Do parties change their platform in anticipation of electoral losses? Or do parties respond to experienced losses at the previous election? These questions relate to two mechanisms to align public opinion with party platforms: (1) rational anticipation, and (2) electoral performance. While extant work empirically tested, and found support for, the latter mechanism, the effect of rational anticipation has not been put to an empirical test yet. We contribute to the literature on party platform change by theorizing and assessing how party performance motivates parties to change their platform in-between elections. We built a new and unique dataset of >20,000 press releases issued by 15 Dutch national political parties that were in parliament between 1997 and 2014. Utilizing automated text analysis (topic modeling) to measure parties' platform change, we show that electoral defeat motivates party platform change in-between elections. In line with existing findings, we demonstrate that parties are backwardlooking.

Abstract

Do parties change their platform in anticipation of electoral losses? Or do parties respond to experienced losses at the previous election? These questions relate to two mechanisms to align public opinion with party platforms: (1) rational anticipation, and (2) electoral performance. While extant work empirically tested, and found support for, the latter mechanism, the effect of rational anticipation has not been put to an empirical test yet. We contribute to the literature on party platform change by theorizing and assessing how party performance motivates parties to change their platform in-between elections. We built a new and unique dataset of >20,000 press releases issued by 15 Dutch national political parties that were in parliament between 1997 and 2014. Utilizing automated text analysis (topic modeling) to measure parties' platform change, we show that electoral defeat motivates party platform change in-between elections. In line with existing findings, we demonstrate that parties are backwardlooking.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political platforms -- History, Political parties -- Netherlands, Elections -- Netherlands, Public opinion -- Netherlands, Netherlands. Staten-Generaal -- Elections, Public opinion polls -- History, Political opposition -- History, Netherlands -- Politics & government -- 1945- anticipation of opinion polls, electoral performance, government-opposition dynamics, political parties' strategies, topic modeling
Language:English
Date:July 2018
Deposited On:04 Oct 2018 07:37
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 07:49
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1058-4609
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2017.1384771

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