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PARTY NOVELTY AND ECONOMIC VOTING

Krystyna Litton
Temple University
Krystyna Litton
Temple University
Open Panel

Abstract

In previous research on economic voting, it was found that the effect of economy on party preferences is not uniform across various party characteristics. This work brings attention to yet another party characteristic that may determine the extent to which each party is held individually accountable for the state of the economy – party novelty. This work defines party novelty as the quality that reflects the degree of change that party undergoes (name, leader, program, organizational changes). The proposed mechanism by which party novelty conditions the effect of the economy on party choice is that certain party transformations alter party identity and their ability to be recognized by voters more than others. For instance, a mere change of party name may prevent voters from making a mental connection to party’s past history, specifically to the fact that this party was in government for the past electoral cycle. The question is would voters still punish or reward a party even after it changed its name? How is it different from when a party changes its leader or undergoes structural changes? In other words, this study is set to determine how party novelty shapes the effect of economic conditions on voters’ party preferences and, consequently, on party choice (the study uses two-stage model of party choice explored by van der Bgug, van der Eijk, and Franklin, 2007). The study uses European Election Study, Euromanifesto Project, and Party Novelty database (developed by the researcher) over four EU elections 1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009.