Childcare policy has become an integral part of social and economic policy in post-industrial democracies. This article explores how the transformation of party systems structures the politics of childcare policy. It reveals that political parties contend with each other over childcare and female employment policy on the social-value dimension as well as the redistributive dimension. Assuming that different party policies have distinct impacts on public childcare policy, it is hypothesised in this article that a government's policy position – composed of the governing parties' policy positions – affects changes in public spending for childcare services. Through an analysis of the pooled time-series and cross-section data of 18 advanced industrialised countries from 1980 until 2005 using multivariate regression methods, it is revealed that a government's redistributive left–right policy position interacts with its social liberal–conservative policy position, and that a left–liberal government raises its budget for childcare services while a left–conservative government does not.