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Do parties and voters pursue the same thing? Policy congruence between parties and voters on different electoral levels

TitleDo parties and voters pursue the same thing? Policy congruence between parties and voters on different electoral levels
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
Authorsvan Dijk, Cees, André Krouwel, and Max Boiten
Conference Name2nd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
Keywordselectoral levels, Policy congruence, PTV, the Netherlands

This study looks at the policy congruence between voters and party representatives in different electoral contexts. Following the logic of proximity voting, representatives should, at least to some extent, reflect citizens’ opinions. Unique large-N data from the VAA Kieskompas (Election Compass) is used to assess the congruence between the issue positions of voters and stances of political parties in the Netherlands. This dataset is particularly suitable for this type of research as VAA questionnaires typically include more items that tap into issue positions than traditional election surveys.

Very few studies incorporate data from two levels and even fewer from three or more administrative levels. Our study includes five Dutch elections in the period from 2009 to 2012 at four different levels: one European Parliament election, two parliamentary elections, one regional elections and one local election. The propensity to vote (PTV) for all parties participating in these elections is extracted from hundreds of thousands of voters. With these data we can analyze the variance across administrative levels of patterns of party preference and agreement with parties that respondents are likely to vote for.

This way, several important hypotheses can be tested; e.g. the basic hypothesis that voters have a higher level of congruence with parties that they give higher PTV’s and vice versa; but also the expectation that this effect is weaker in second-order elections than in first-order elections. We also will test the hypothesis that voters who give multiple parties a (similar) high PTV will generally have lower levels of congruence than voters who indicate that they are likely to vote for only one party. Another important hypothesis is the expectation that policy congruence is generally higher on the socioeconomic dimension than on the cultural and EU dimension. With respect to policy congruence, it is expected that parties with extreme positions in the political spectrum have a higher level of policy congruence with their voters than centrist parties.

Policy Congruence on Different Electoral Levels (First Draft).pdf531.45 KB