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The idiosyncrasies of Slovenian party manifestos: The relevance of a path dependent explanation

Tomaz Dezelan
University of Ljubljana
Tomaz Dezelan
University of Ljubljana
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Abstract

The Slovenian political arena is pervaded by idiosyncratic elements arising from the genealogy of political parties and political pluralism, the nature of party competition, the strategies of political actors, the communist legacy, the experience with pre-WWII monarchic political pluralism and syndicalism etc. Slovenian party manifestos are one of the most important indicators of the nature of political competition in the state and they reflect distinctive characteristics that cannot be straightforwardly assigned to the clientelist or programmatic model (Kitschelt, 2001). Hence, manifestos provide an opportunity to examine the relevance of a path dependent explanation to examine an important party instrument that is closely connected to the strategy of a party and its goal of winning votes (Pomper, 1967). The clearest peculiarity of Slovenian party manifestos is the frequent overlap between the election manifesto and party programme that cannot simply be explained by party institutionalisation and professionalisation. Our aim is to carefully examine the hallmarks of both kinds of documents and decrypt the rationales behind them. In addition, by scrutinising the sequences of events that led to the emergence of these peculiarities we aspire to provide shed light on the relevance of historical factors compared to contesting explanations. We therefore argue that the identified idiosyncrasies of Slovenian political parties in the field of programmatic documents are historically determined and therefore offer sufficient evidence to confirm the relevance of the path dependency thesis. Our approach to providing sufficient evidence for our argument will break the research process up into three parts: 1) a synchronic examination of party manifestos and programmes (current party documents); 2) a diachronic inspection of the evolution of party programmatic documents in Slovenian political history; and 3) testing the relevance of the path dependency explanation against contesting explanations given in previous research. The core research method will involve a quantitative examination of party documents on the basis of specifically prepared codebooks to identify verbal and non-verbal hallmarks, while paying special attention to their extensiveness, form and depth.