Mass Media and Party Divergence in Multiparty Systems



Does the mass media affect the dispersion of the policy positions of political parties? In this article it is argued that the mass media polarize parties' policy positions because vote-seeking strategies are more viable if party policy positions are clearly communicated to the electorate and because a vote-seeking strategy corresponds with parties taking a distinct policy position away from the median. Hence, the main hypothesis is that party policy position dispersion is larger with more mass media penetration. In order to test this argument, a novel dataset on party positions and mass media penetration in 267 Danish municipalities in 2004 is utilized and a new measure of the dispersion of policy positions in multiparty systems is constructed. The analysis corroborates the article's main hypothesis.