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Have Scandinavian parties diverged in regards to issue competition?

Mattias Gunnarsson
Linnaeus University
Mattias Gunnarsson
Linnaeus University
Open Panel

Abstract

The Scandinavian countries have long been considered to be most similar systems, though they may be seen as diverging because of the Danish and later also Swedish membership in the European Union. This paper examines whether there are divergences in what issues are brought to the fore of political competition in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and if there is any form of visible European effect connected to membership in the European Union, where formerly very similar parties must react and develop different responses to challenges created by membership. For one thing the positions of the parties – both vis-à-vis each other and the electorate – could very well change because of this membership. This is done by analyzing and comparing the content of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish election manifestos before and after the Swedish membership in the European Union. The election manifestos are considered to be the foremost instrument of positioning the parties both in relation to each other and in relation to the electorate. If the parties’ respective positions have change, it should be noticeable in these documents. Two questions will be addressed: Have there been any changes in what issues are brought up and how these issues have been brought up? Have the parties in the three countries diverged, both regarding party family and party system, and if so can this diverging be connected to membership in the European Union?