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Who's at the helm? When party organization matters for party strategy


Koedam, Jelle (2022). Who's at the helm? When party organization matters for party strategy. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion, and Parties, 32(2):251-274.

Abstract

Why do parties change their policy positions? A growing literature suggests that
the internal balance of power between leaders and activists affects how a party
responds to changing environmental incentives. This paper explores when and
how party organization matters for party strategy. It argues that a key prediction
– that leadership-dominated and activist-dominated parties are responsive to
the positional shifts of the mean voter and the party voter, respectively – is
conditional on two factors, namely a party’s electoral performance and party
system polarization. Cross-sectional time series analyses of fifty-five parties in
10 European democracies between 1977 and 2003 confirm that (1)
leadership-dominated parties’ responsiveness to the mean voter decreases as
their electoral fortunes improve, (2) increases as a party system becomes more
polarized, while (3) activist-dominated parties more reliably follow the
positional shifts of the party voter. This study’s findings have important
implications for our understanding of how intra-party politics influences interparty
competition, and thus democratic representation more generally.

Abstract

Why do parties change their policy positions? A growing literature suggests that
the internal balance of power between leaders and activists affects how a party
responds to changing environmental incentives. This paper explores when and
how party organization matters for party strategy. It argues that a key prediction
– that leadership-dominated and activist-dominated parties are responsive to
the positional shifts of the mean voter and the party voter, respectively – is
conditional on two factors, namely a party’s electoral performance and party
system polarization. Cross-sectional time series analyses of fifty-five parties in
10 European democracies between 1977 and 2003 confirm that (1)
leadership-dominated parties’ responsiveness to the mean voter decreases as
their electoral fortunes improve, (2) increases as a party system becomes more
polarized, while (3) activist-dominated parties more reliably follow the
positional shifts of the party voter. This study’s findings have important
implications for our understanding of how intra-party politics influences interparty
competition, and thus democratic representation more generally.

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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 > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:3 April 2022
Deposited On:08 Feb 2023 09:49
Last Modified:29 Mar 2024 02:40
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1745-7289
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/17457289.2019.1655647
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English