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Party Policy Diffusion


Do parties learn from or emulate parties in other political systems? This research develops the argument that parties are more likely to employ the heuristic of learning from and emulating foreign successful (incumbent) parties. Spatial-econometric analyses of parties’ election policies from several established democracies robustly confirm that political parties respond to left-right policy positions of foreign political parties that have recently governed. By showing that parties respond to these foreign incumbent parties, this work has significant implications for our understanding of party competition. Furthermore, we contribute to the literature on public policy diffusion, as we suggest that political parties are important vehicles through which public policies diffuse.

Corresponding author
Tobias Böhmelt is Research Associate, ETH Zürich, and Reader, University of Essex, Department of Government, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom (
Lawrence Ezrow is Professor, University of Essex, Department of Government, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom (
Roni Lehrer is Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Mannheim, Collaborative Research Center SFB 884: Political Economy of Reforms, L13, 17, 68131 Mannheim, Germany (
Hugh Ward is Professor, University of Essex, Department of Government, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom (
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