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Political conflict and direct democracy: explaining initiative use 1920-2011


Leemann, Lucas (2015). Political conflict and direct democracy: explaining initiative use 1920-2011. Swiss Political Science Review = Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, 21(4):596-616.

Abstract

Political competition is the engine for representative democracy. Within the representation mechanics I look at the political space, the dimensionality of political conflict, and how parties try to affect the relative salience of different dimensions by using direct democratic institutions. The leading question is how we can explain initiative use. The paper asks how the costs and benefits of using initiatives affect parties when they decide whether to use this instrument or not. The major argument is that when party competition increases, we will see higher initiative frequencies because parties try to affect the saliency of specific issues to increase their electoral bases. I analyze annual submission rates, the content of proposed initiatives, and the changing share of partisan actors behind initiatives. The findings highlight that the consequences of direct democratic institutions go beyond changing policy outcomes. For the specific case at hand, Switzerland from 1920 to 2011, it is shown that despite numerous opposite claims, there has been no underlying change in strategy or equilibrium but just a slow evolution of underlying factors such as institutional requirements and partisan competition.

Abstract

Political competition is the engine for representative democracy. Within the representation mechanics I look at the political space, the dimensionality of political conflict, and how parties try to affect the relative salience of different dimensions by using direct democratic institutions. The leading question is how we can explain initiative use. The paper asks how the costs and benefits of using initiatives affect parties when they decide whether to use this instrument or not. The major argument is that when party competition increases, we will see higher initiative frequencies because parties try to affect the saliency of specific issues to increase their electoral bases. I analyze annual submission rates, the content of proposed initiatives, and the changing share of partisan actors behind initiatives. The findings highlight that the consequences of direct democratic institutions go beyond changing policy outcomes. For the specific case at hand, Switzerland from 1920 to 2011, it is shown that despite numerous opposite claims, there has been no underlying change in strategy or equilibrium but just a slow evolution of underlying factors such as institutional requirements and partisan competition.

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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 > Political Science and International Relations
Language:English
Date:December 2015
Deposited On:26 Nov 2018 17:10
Last Modified:31 Jul 2020 02:54
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1424-7755
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/spsr.12190

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