Election manifestos and policy-oriented economic voting

A pooled cross-national analysis


Ali Çarkoğlu, Department of Political Science & International Relations, Boǧazici University, Bebek, Istanbul, Turkey Phone: 90-212-2631500/1525; Fax: 90-212-265 6357


Abstract. Many previous analyses of aggregate-level policy-oriented economic voting hypotheses have been based on expert judgements of incumbents' ideology. These judgements first of all concentrate on long term characteristics of ideological stands and, more importantly, do not reflect parties' positions on economic issues per se. Using parties' arguments on economic issues in their election manifestoes, this article develops a left-right ideology dimension that reflects parties' relative positions on economic issues for 163 elections in 16 countries in the post-World War II period. The analysis suggests that over time there are very stable differences in parties' ideological positions on economic issues. Despite increasing clarity of ideological cleavages on economic issues, and persistent evidence of diverging economic policy outcomes in the literature, no distinct reward and punishment by the electorate is observed, associated with the ideological stands of the incumbents. Accordingly, the policy-oriented economic voting hypothesis is rejected and possible reasons for this phenomenon is discussed.