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An Integrated Perspective on Party Platforms and Electoral Choice
Elff, Martin

Uploaded 08-19-2002
Keywords electoral behavior
party platforms
party manifestos
social cleavages
class voting
religious voting
comparative politics
principal curves
generalized additive models
dimensional analysis
discrete choice
Abstract There are several perspectives on voting behavior that usually constitute separate strands of research: the impact of social background on vote choice, the relation between policy positions of parties and policy preferences of voters, and the effect of party platforms on the electoral success of parties. Although they all apply to the same entities, that is, to voters and parties, these different perspectives seem to have divergent implications. Thus we are in need of a way to reconcile these perspectives. The empirical results presented in this paper suggest a way what such a reconciliation should look like. They could be summarized as follows: In party platforms, several ideological dimensions can be distinguished that are connected with different cleavages in the Lispet-Rokkan sense. Second, it is shown that individuals from different social groups differ in the way they evaluate party platforms and choose among parties. Third, the way these individuals evaluate party platforms conforms to spatial notions of voting. Fourth, a general pattern of platform evaluation established on the base of pooled data of several countries accounts to a large degree for differences between levels of religious voting in these countries.

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