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Coalition Governments and Party Competition: Political Communication Strategies of Coalition Parties*

Abstract

Coalition parties have to reconcile two competing logics: they need to demonstrate unity to govern together, but also have to emphasize their own profile to succeed in elections. We argue that the electoral cycle explains whether unity or differentiation prevails. While differentiation dominates at the beginning and the end of the legislative term in close proximity to elections, compromise dominates the middle of the term when coalition governments focus on enacting a common policy agenda. To test our theoretical claims, we draw on an innovative quantitative text analysis of more than 21,000 press releases published by coalition parties from 2000 until 2010.

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Iñaki Sagarzazu, Lecturer in Comparative Politics, University of Glasgow, 40 Bute Gardens, Glasgow, UK G12 8RT (inaki.sagarzazu@glasgow.ac.uk). Heike Klüver, Professor of Comparative Politics, Department of Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Allende-Platz 1, 20146 Hamburg, Germany (heike.kluever@uni-hamburg.de). The authors’ names follow the principle of rotation. Both authors have contributed equally to all work. The authors thank James Adams, Hanna Bäck, Nicholas Charron, William Heller, Thomas Saalfeld, the anonymous reviewers and Ken Benoit for valuable comments and suggestions. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.56

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
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