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Title: Issues, Party Strategies and Voter Behaviour: A Dynamic Approach
Authors: Barbet Porta, Berta
Supervisors: Whitaker, Richard
Rockey, James
Award date: 6-Jun-2016
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Parties compete around political conflicts and identities that structure the way electoral alliances are formed. Changes in the issues of party competition are, then, relevant for understanding electoral dynamics. Nonetheless, the study of changes in issues over which parties compete has largely been limited to large and drastic realignments, with little systematic research aimed at understanding the process in a more comprehensive way. This thesis studies changes in the issues of electoral competition in a comparative and dynamic way. It does so by using a research design that is comparative in three ways. First, comparisons are made over time to see how the situation evolves with changes and to separate it from structural elements. Second, comparisons are made between countries, to isolate the effect of the different contextual elements, and third between issues, to see if different issues have different characteristics and dynamics. Using data from the Comparative Manifesto Project to measure the issues of the party offer, it shows that the issues discussed by parties change constantly in modern established democracies. It also shows that parties that were far away from the median voter in the previous election change the issues of their offer more radically, proving that strategic considerations play a role in these changes. However, the empirical evidence gathered using data from several opinion polls and electoral studies shows that these changes do not always translate into changes in the issues that predict the vote. Although parties explain part of the variation in the drivers of the vote, that effect is far from perfect and not common to all the issues and circumstances. This lack of automatic link between the two agendas is found both when studying it in a comparative way, and when focusing on several case studies. Consequently, further research should focus on investigating these dynamics to provide better understanding of how the two agendas interact.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of Politics and International Relations
Leicester Theses

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