It is normatively desirable that parties’ policy positions match the views of their supporters, as citizens in Western democracies are primarily represented by and through parties. Existing research suggests that parties shift their policy positions, but as of today, there is only weak and inconsistent empirical evidence that voters actually perceive these shifts. Using individual-level panel data from Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands, this article tests the proposition that voters perceive parties’ policy shifts only on salient issues while remaining oblivious to parties’ changing positions on issues that they do not consider important. The results demonstrate that issue saliency plays a fundamental role in explaining voters’ perceptions of parties’ policy shifts: according to this logic, democratic discourse between the elites and the electorate appears to take place at the level of policy issues that voters care about.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Voters’ Perceptions of Party Policy Shifts

PLESCIA C;
2017

Abstract

It is normatively desirable that parties’ policy positions match the views of their supporters, as citizens in Western democracies are primarily represented by and through parties. Existing research suggests that parties shift their policy positions, but as of today, there is only weak and inconsistent empirical evidence that voters actually perceive these shifts. Using individual-level panel data from Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands, this article tests the proposition that voters perceive parties’ policy shifts only on salient issues while remaining oblivious to parties’ changing positions on issues that they do not consider important. The results demonstrate that issue saliency plays a fundamental role in explaining voters’ perceptions of parties’ policy shifts: according to this logic, democratic discourse between the elites and the electorate appears to take place at the level of policy issues that voters care about.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/727435
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