The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers, participants at Rice University’s American and Comparative Politics Workshop, and Jim Adams, Debra Leiter, and Caitlin Milazzo for helpful comments. Fortunato would like to acknowledge financial support for this project from the collaborative research center SFB 884 on the Political Economy of Reforms at the University of Mannheim (http://reforms.uni-mannheim.de), funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Stevenson would like to acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation in the form of grant SES-0752362 “Political Context and Political Knowledge in Modern Democracies.” Replication files may be found on either author’s website: http://www.davidfortunato.com or http://www.randystevenson.com, respectively.
Perceptions of Partisan Ideologies: The Effect of Coalition Participation
Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2012
© 2012, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 57, Issue 2, pages 459–477, April 2013
How to Cite
Fortunato, D. and Stevenson, R. T. (2013), Perceptions of Partisan Ideologies: The Effect of Coalition Participation. American Journal of Political Science, 57: 459–477. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2012.00623.x
- Issue online: 5 APR 2013
- Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2012
Recent scholarship in comparative political behavior has begun to address how voters in coalitional systems manage the complexity of those environments. We contribute to this emerging literature by asking how voters update their perceptions of the policy positions of political parties that participate in coalition cabinets. In contrast to previous work on the sources of voter perceptions of party ideology in parliamentary systems, which has asked how voters respond to changes in party manifestos (i.e., promises), we argue that in updating their perceptions, voters will give more weight to observable actions than to promises. Further, coalition participation is an easily observed party action that voters use as a heuristic to infer the direction of policy change in the absence of detailed information about parties’ legislative records. Specifically, we propose that all voters should perceive parties in coalition cabinets as more ideologically similar, but that this tendency will be muted for more politically interested voters (who have greater access to countervailing messages from parties). Using an individual-level data set constructed from 54 electoral surveys in 18 European countries, we find robust support for these propositions.