Rowman and Littlefield International
Constraints on Party Policy Change

Constraints on Party Policy Change

By Thomas M. Meyer

Publication Date: May 2013

Pages 284

ECPR Press

Paperback 9781907301490
£30.00 €41.00 $46.00

Political scientists are quite good at predicting ‘optimal' policy positions that - under the given circumstances - allow parties to get maximal payoffs in terms of policy, office or votes. What we do not know is whether parties are actually able to take these positions or whether they are constrained to do so. This book attempts to narrow this gap. The major argument is that parties do not choose policy positions from scratch and that they cannot freely change their policy platforms. Rather, voters' lacking perception of changing party platforms and intra-party factors constrain parties when shifting their policy positions. An empirical analysis of party policy shifts in ten Western European democracies shows that these constraints differ across parties and thus affect the parties' position-taking differently. Considering this variation is important to derive more precise predictions for parties' policy platforms and for our understanding of party behaviour in general.

Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix

Acknowledgements xiii

Part I. Party Competition and Time

Chapter One: Constraints on Shifting Party Policy Platforms 3

Chapter Two: Linking Parties and Time 15

Chapter Three: Measuring Party Policy Shifts 29

Part II. Voter Perception and Party Policy Shifts

Chapter Four: The Voters’ Perception of Party Policy Shifts 57

Chapter Five: Causes and Consequences of Voters’ Perceived Party Policy Shifts 75

Chapter Six: Voter Perceptions of Party Policy Shifts: An Empirical Analysis 97

Chapter Seven: How Voter Perceptions Affect Party Policy Shifts: An Empirical

Analysis 135

Part III. Parties’ Internal Structure and Party Policy Shifts

Chapter Eight: How Parties’ Internal Structure Affect Party Policy Shifts 169

Chapter Nine: Parties’ Internal Structure and Party Policy Shifts: An Empirical

Analysis 179

Part IV. Conclusion

Chapter Ten: Conclusions and Directions for Future Research 209

Appendices 217

Bibliography 233

Index 259

Thomas M Meyer is a researcher at the Department of Government, University of Vienna, and a member of the Austrian National Election Study (AUTNES) research team. Previously, he was a PhD student at the Center for Doctoral Studies in Social and Behavioral Sciences (CDSS) at the Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences (GESS), University of Mannheim, and received his PhD in Political Science in 2010. His research focuses on political parties, party competition, voting behaviour and coalition governance and has been published or is accepted for publication by Comparative Political Studies, Electoral Studies, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Party Politics and West European Politics.

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