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Looking for the party? The effects of partisan change on issue attention in UK Acts of Parliament

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2014

Shaun Bevan*
The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
Zachary Greene
Collaborative Research Center, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany


Political parties matter for government outcomes. Despite this general finding for political science research, recent work on public policy and agenda-setting has found just the opposite; parties generally do not matter when it comes to explaining government attention. While the common explanation for this finding is that issue attention is different than the location of policy, this explanation has never truly been tested. Through the use of data on nearly 65 years of UK Acts of Parliament, this paper presents a detailed investigation of the effect parties have on issue attention in UK Acts of Parliament. It demonstrates that elections alone do not explain changes in the distribution of policies across issues. Instead, the parties’ organizations, responses to economic conditions, and size of the parliamentary delegation influence the stability of issue attention following a party transition.

Research Article
© European Consortium for Political Research 2014 

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