The Consequences of Neglecting the Median: Major Party Vote Shares in Seven Western Democracies - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Consequences of Neglecting the Median: Major Party Vote Shares in Seven Western Democracies

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Title: The Consequences of Neglecting the Median: Major Party Vote Shares in Seven Western Democracies


1
The Consequences of Neglecting the Median Major
Party Vote Shares in Seven Western Democracies
  • Robin Best
  • Syracuse University
  • rbest1_at_gmail.com
  • March 24th, 2007

2
The Project
  • To examine the effects of major party positioning
    on the Two-Party vote share.
  • Two-Party vote share total of the vote
    received by the two major parties.
  • Motivation
  • Party systems in virtually all advanced
    democracies have become increasingly fragmented
    over the post-WWII era.
  • The total of the vote share received by the two
    major parties has often significantly declined
    over the post-WWII era.

3
The Effective Number of Electoral Parties by Time
Period
4
Red Line Two-Party Vote Black
Line ENP
5
Red Line Two-Party Vote Black
Line ENP
6
Polarization and Bracketing
  • McDonald 2006 McDonald et. al. 2006.
  • In the long-term, representation is accurate and
    responsive, even when parties diverge.
  • Long-term representational prospects are best
    when the two-parties bracket the median voter on
    each issue.
  • I focus on the short-term consequences of party
    polarization and bracketing
  • How does the failure of major parties to converge
    (i.e. party polarization) affect the Two-Party
    vote share?
  • How does the failure of major parties to bracket
    the median voter affect the Two-Party vote share?

7
Party Polarization
  • How would party divergence affect the Two-Party
    vote?
  • Downs Converging is the vote-maximizing
    strategy.
  • But maybe notParties may benefit when they
    diverge, capitalizing on valence, voter biases,
    etc.
  • Converging may lose votes to smaller, more
    extreme parties.
  • McDonald et. al. In the short run, incongruence
    is larger when polarization is high.  If voters
    care that the two major parties aren't very close
    to their policy preferences, we may see voters
    supporting alternative parties.
  • Polarization should decrease the Two-Party vote
    in the presence of a small centrist party (e.g.
    the Liberal Democrats in the U.K., the FDP in
    Germany).

8
Bracketing
  • Failing to bracket the median voter on an issue
    may increase support for smaller parties and
    (conversely) decrease support for the two-major
    parties.
  • Two forms of failure to bracket
  • Both major parties position themselves on the
    issue, but fail to bracket the median voter.
  • At least one of the two major parties fails to
    position themselves on the issue.
  • Research on new party entries suggests new
    parties are likely to emerge and receive votes
    when an important issue is being neglected by one
    or more major parties (e.g. Hug 2001).
  • Importance of New Politics issues.

9
Data and Measurement
  • Dependent Variable Total of the vote received
    by the two major
  • parties.
  • Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New
    Zealand, U.K., U.S.,
  • 1950-2002
  • Polarization the ideological distance between
    the two-major parties on
  • the left-right dimension (CMP 2006).
  • Bracketing
  • Failure of the two major parties to bracket the
    median voter on Welfare, International Peace,
    Planned Economy, Market Economy.
  • of New Politics issues where at least one of
    the two major parties fails to take a position
    (i.e. CMP coding of zero).

10
Expectations
  • OLS Regression
  • Dependent Variable Two-Party Vote Share
  • Independent Variable Expected Effect
  • Two-Party Vote t-1
  • Planned Economy -
  • Market Economy -
  • Welfare -
  • Peace -
  • of New Politics Issues -
  • Polarization
  • PolarizationCenter Party -
  • SMD

11
  • Party Polarization, Bracketing, and Two-Party
    Vote Share, 1950-2002
  • __________________________________________________
    ______________________
  • Variable Coefficient (Std. Err.)
  • __________________________________________________
    ______________________
  • Two-Party Vote t-1 .40 (.09)
  • Market Economy -.30 (1.57)
  • Planned Economy .68 (1.06)
  • Welfare -3.45 (1.80)
  • Peace 2.39 (1.09)
  • New Politics Issues .21 (.21)
  • Polarization .06 (.03)
  • Center Party 5.46 (4.16)

12
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13
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14
Yellow Line FPÖ left-right position Black
Line ENP
15
Party Positioning, Two-Party Vote Shares, and
Party System Fragmentation
  • Major party bracketing appears to matter little
    for (combined) major party vote shares.
  • Issue salience to voters?
  • Length of time of neglect?
  • Major-party polarization appears to encourage
    fragmentation when there is a small centrist
    party, and limit fragmentation when there is not.
  • Does this leave room for centrist parties to
    emerge?
  • How might the positioning of other (smaller)
    parties matter for major party positioning, vote
    shares, and party system fragmentation?
  • E.g. Austria
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