Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Ideological Clarity in Multiparty Competition: A New Measure and Test Using Election Manifestos

Abstract

Parties in advanced democracies take ideological positions as part of electoral competition, but some parties communicate their position more clearly than others. Existing research on democratic party competition has paid much attention to assessing partisan position taking in electoral manifestos, but it has largely overlooked how manifestos reflect the clarity of these positions. This article presents a scaling procedure that better reflects the data-generating process of party manifestos. This new estimator allows us to recover not only positional estimates, but also estimates for the ideological clarity or ambiguity of parties. The study validates its results using Monte Carlo tests, a manifesto-drafting simulation and a human coding exercise. Finally, the article applies the estimator to party manifestos in four multiparty democracies and demonstrates that ambiguity can enhance the appeal of parties with platforms that become more moderate, and lessen the appeal of parties with platforms that become more extreme.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All

Princeton University; McGill University; University of Houston (emails: jameslo@princeton.edu, so.proksch@mcgill.ca, jslapin@uh.edu). We wish to thank the many individuals who commented on earlier drafts of this article, including Ken Benoit, Will Lowe, Shawn Treier, several anonymous reviewers, and seminar participants at the University of Mannheim, Nuffield College, Oxford and Rice University. James Lo and Sven-Oliver Proksch gratefully acknowledge financial support for this project from the SFB 884 on the Political Economy of Reforms at the University of Mannheim (project C4), funded by the German Research Foundation. Replication materials and an online appendix are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123414000192.

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Kathleen Bawn , and Zeynep Somer-Topcu . 2012. Government Versus Opposition at the Polls: How Governing Status Affects the Impact of Policy Positions. American Journal of Political Science 56 (2):433446.

Ian Budge , David Robertson , and Derek Hearl . 1987. Ideology, Strategy, and Party Change: Spatial Analyses of Post-War Election Programmes in 19 Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

James E Campbell . 1983. The Electoral Consequences of Issue Ambiguity: An Examination of the Presidential Candidates’ Issue Positions from 1968 to 1980. Political Behavior 5 (3):277291.

Lawrence Ezrow . 2005. Are Moderate Parties Rewarded in Multiparty Systems? A Pooled Analysis of Western European Elections, 1984–1998. European Journal of Political Research 44 (6):881898.

Matthew Gabel , and John Huber . 2000. Putting Parties in their Place: Inferring Party Left-Right Ideological Positions from Party Manifestos Data. American Journal of Political Science 44 (1):94103.

William Heller , and Carol Mershon . 2008. Dealing in Discipline: Party Switching and Legislative Voting in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, 1988–2000. American Journal of Political Science 52 (4):910925.

Daniel J. Hopkins , and Gary King . 2010. A Method of Automated Nonparametric Content Analysis for Social Science. American Journal of Political Science 54 (1):229247.

Michael Laver , and John Garry . 2000. Estimating Policy Positions from Political Texts. American Journal of Political Science 44 (3):619634.

Michael Laver , and Kenneth A. Shepsle . 1996. Making and Breaking Governments: Cabinets and Legislatures in Parliamentary Democracies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gary Marks , Liesbet Hooghe , Marco Steenbergen , and Ryan Bakker . 2007. Crossvalidating Data on Party Positioning on European Integration. Electoral Studies 26 (1):2338.

Lanny Martin , and Georg Vanberg . 2011. Parliaments and Coalitions: The Role of Legislative Institutions in Multiparty Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

John Petrocik . 1996. Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case Study. American Journal of Political Science 40 (3):825850.

Sven-Oliver Proksch , Jonathan Slapin , and Michael Thies . 2011. Party System Dynamics in Post-War Japan: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Electoral Pledges. Electoral Studies 30 (1):114124.

Jonathan B. Slapin , and Sven-Oliver Proksch . 2008. A Scaling Model for Estimating Time-Series Party Positions from Texts. American Journal of Political Science 52 (3):705722.

Arthur Spirling . 2011. US Treaty Making with American Indians: Institutional Change and Relative Power, 1784–1911. American Journal of Political Science 56 (1):8497.

Margit Tavits . 2009. The Making of Mavericks: Local Loyalties and Party Defection. Comparative Political Studies 42 (6):793815.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Lo Supplementary Material
Appendix

 PDF (618 KB)
618 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 146 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 373 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.