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Radical Left Parties and Legislative Responsiveness

Federalism
Local Government
Political Parties
Representation
Policy Change
Eva Hoxha
University of Gothenburg
Eva Hoxha
University of Gothenburg

Abstract

How do governmental parties respond to the political representation of radical left parties? On the ideological plane across Europe and beyond radical political parties have reaped increasing electoral success. This success often comes at the expense of centrist, mainstream parties. While the vast majority of literature looks at parties’ responsiveness during the electoral campaign, the dynamics of long-term responsiveness once parties form government has remained a black box. Political parties certainly have both policy and office goals; however, prioritizing one goal over the other is a strategic decision based on changes produced after an election. I argue that the political representation of radical left parties and consequently their significant vote gains will influence governmental parties to alter between policy and office goals, leading governmental parties to change their strategies during their term and reflect a shift to the left on issues of interest for radical left parties. However, due to institutional and ideological constraints, this leftward movement, is reflected in governmental parties’ rhetorical agenda and fewer changes are observed on the latter’s policy agenda. A novel dataset combining parliamentary debates, bills proposed, and laws approved by 42 Spanish regional parties provides support for the argument. These results add more to our understanding on the influence of the radical left parties and legislative responsiveness.