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Changed Policy Congruence Between Political Parties and Voters? A Comparative Study of Nine Party Systems in Western Europe

Elites
 
Party Manifestos
 
Political Parties
 
Representation
 
Voting
 
Party Systems
 
Public Opinion
 
Presenter
Magnus Hagevi
Linnaeus University
Authors
Magnus Hagevi
Linnaeus University
Marie Demker
University of Gothenburg
Karl Loxbo
Linnaeus University
Jonas Hinnfors
University of Gothenburg
Sofie Blombäck
Mid-Sweden University

Abstract
This study is about changed policy congruence between voters and political parties in nine party system in Western Europe. To investigate change, this paper includes policy congruence between voters and political parties during five decades starting in the 1970s. According to scholars of political parties, especially advocates of the cartel thesis such as Katz and Mair, representative democracy in Western Europe is in an ever-widening crisis since the links between citizens and political parties are broken. By comparing unique data of the actual left-right and gal-tan positions in the election manifestos of 90 West European parties with corresponding views among voters, this study argues that the crisis of representation is largely exaggerated. Instead, the policy congruence between current parties and voters, on left-right as well as gal-tan issues, tend to be at least as good as the time before the alleged crisis of representation started.
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