Reform agendas, policy diffusion and the consequences of intra-party position taking
|Associates:||Zachary Greene, Ph.D.|
|Duration:||01.01.2010 - 31.12.2017|
This project examines the effect of external shocks on the programmatic position-taking of parties and the provision of reform policies in developed democracies. Based on a broad theory of party politics and policymaking, we predict that external shocks influence the distributions of preferences of the mass public, partisan supporters and intra-party actors. We define external shocks as events brought on by causes beyond the immediate control of elected representatives, such as environmental or financial disasters. Following the responsible party government model (Powell 2004), we expect that party leaders seek to implement policies in line with the diverse goals of their supporters. Party leaders respond to these reform pressures by changing the location of, first, the preferences and second, the salience of issues in their platforms and policy statements. The degree to which party leaders represent their principals’ preferences depends on the party’s and parliament’s institutional rules and intra-party preference heterogeneity. Parties containing groups with heterogeneous policy goals make it difficult for party leaders to create policy outputs in line with their voters. We predict that parties that include intra-party groups with diverse policy goals create greater policy divergence with their electoral supporters than parties with more cohesive intra-party groups. However, exogenous shocks can cause both intra-party groups and reform policies to fall more closely in line with the goals of the electorate by influencing preferences or narrowing the degree of preference heterogeneity on an issue within the electorate and within the party.