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Leadership Competition and Disagreement at Party National Congresses

Abstract

Theories often explain intraparty competition based on electoral conditions and intraparty rules. This article further opens this black box by considering intraparty statements of preferences. In particular, it predicts that intraparty preference heterogeneity increases after electoral losses, but that candidates deviating from the party’s median receive fewer intraparty votes. Party members grant candidates greater leeway to accommodate competing policy demands when in government. The study tests the hypotheses using a new database of party congress speeches from Germany and France, and uses automated text classification to estimate speakers’ relative preferences. The results demonstrate that speeches at party meetings provide valuable insights into actors’ preferences and intraparty politics. The article finds evidence of a complex relationship between the governing context, the economy and intraparty disagreement.

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University of Mannheim (emails: zacgreene@gmail.com, mhaber@uni-mannheim.de). The data replication sets and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123414000283. This work was supported by the Collaborative Research Center 884 Political Economy of Reforms (Project C2), funded by the German Research Foundation.

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