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The Multidimensional Disadvantages of Centrist Parties in Western Europe

Zur, Roi (2021) 'The Multidimensional Disadvantages of Centrist Parties in Western Europe.' Political Behavior, 43 (4). pp. 1755-1777. ISSN 0190-9320

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Empirical evidence suggests that most parties in Western Europe do not take centrist policy positions, despite the centripetal force of the voter distribution. While most scholars focus on the reasons for parties’ divergence, this paper focuses on the reasons for the electoral failures of parties that take centrist Left–Right positions. This paper demonstrates that centrist parties, such as the British Liberal Democrats and the German FDP, suffer from multidimensional disadvantages. Using the 2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey and the European Election Studies surveys, I show that centrist parties are systematically disadvantaged regarding non-policy issues, such as competence, integrity, and party unity (i.e. valence issues). Second, I demonstrate that given their valence image there is no set of policy positions centrist parties can take to substantially improve their vote shares. While (Left–Right) centrist parties usually take positions that are far more supportive of European integration than the mass publics, moderating their positions is expected to increase centrist parties’ vote-share but not as much as it is expected to increase the vote-share of Christian Democratic parties. These results have important implications for the study of political representation, electoral campaigns, and parties’ policy shifts.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Centrist parties; Liberal parties; Voting; Valence issues; European Parliament Elections; Party strategies; Positional issues
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2021 08:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:21

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