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How transnational party alliances influence national parties' policies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2021

Roman Senninger*
Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Daniel Bischof
Department of Political Science, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Lawrence Ezrow
Department of Government, University of Essex, Colchester, United Kingdom
*Corresponding author. Email:


Previous research reports that parties in established European democracies learn from and emulate the successful election strategies of foreign incumbents, i.e., successful parties are influential abroad. We theorize that—in addition to incumbency (or success)—exchange takes place through transnational party alliances in the European Union. Relying on party manifesto data and spatial econometric analyses, we show that belonging to the same European Parliament (EP) party group enhances learning and emulation processes between national political parties. Estimated short- and long-term effects are approximately two and three times greater when foreign incumbents are in the same EP party group compared to other foreign incumbents. Our results have implications for our understanding of how transnational party groups influence national parties’ policy positions.

Research Note
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the European Political Science Association

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We are thankful for comments by three reviewers, the editor in charge Anja Neundorf, Tarik Abou-Chadi, Tobias Böhmelt, Patrícia Calca, Nils Düpont, Noam Gidron, Fabrizio Gilardi, Roni Lehrer, and Arjan Schakal. Previous versions of this paper have been presented at Aarhus University, University of Mannheim, University of Zurich, and MPSA 2019. We are thankful for all comments shared by the audience at these seminars. Replication files are published in the Political Science Research and Methods Dataverse (


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