Who do European parties represent? Are the policies that parties advocate responsive to all segments or subconstituencies within the electorate (defined by affluence, education, political involvement, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, etc), or alternatively, do parties respond to particular groups in society at the expense of others? Addressing these questions uncovers dynamics of political representation in established democracies, and, more specifically, evaluates the extent to which these democracies exhibit representational equality (or inequality).
The project employs a macro-level methodology that requires collecting and aggregating information on party positions and citizens’ Left-Right positions, and integrating these observations into a comprehensive dataset that can be used to study the representation of numerous subconstituencies (mentioned above).
In essence, the study examines the linkage or correspondence between the policy preferences of citizens on the one hand, and parties on the other. The functioning of this citizen-party linkage is crucial for democracy. A prominent scholar on political parties, Giovanni Sartori, remarked that, “citizens in Western democracies are represented through and by parties. This is inevitable” (1968, 471, italics original). This study will move us forward in terms of evaluating the degree to which parties are indeed performing one of their main functions of ‘giving voice’ to citizens’ policy preferences.
Adams, James, and Lawrence Ezrow. 2009. “Who do European Parties Represent? How Western European Parties Represent the Policy Preferences of Opinion Leaders.” Journal of Politics 71(1): 206-223. (PDF)
Adams, James, Lawrence Ezrow, and Zeynep Somer-Topcu. 2011. “Is Anybody Listening? Evidence That Voters Do Not Respond to European Parties’ Policy Statements During Elections.” American Journal of Political Science 55(2): 370-382. (PDF)
Ezrow, Lawrence, Catherine E. De Vries, Marco Steenbergen, and Erica E. Edwards. 2011. “Mean Voter Representation and Partisan Constituency Representation: Do Parties Respond to the Mean Voter Position or to their Supporters?” Party Politics 17(3): 275-301. (PDF)
DATA (Excel): polarization/dispersion
Equations (Word): polarization documentation
Related Papers using measures:
Ezrow, Lawrence, and Georgios Xezonakis. 2011. “Citizen Satisfaction with Democracy and Parties’ Policy Offerings.” Comparative Political Studies 44(9): 1152-1178. (PDF)
Ezrow, Lawrence. 2008. “Parties’ Policy Programmes and the Dog that Didn’t Bark: No Evidence that Proportional Systems Promote Extreme Party Positioning.” British Journal of Political Science 38(3): 479-497. (PDF) [Data in appendix]
Ezrow, Lawrence. 2007. “The Variance Matters: How Party Systems Represent the Preferences of Voters.” Journal of Politics 69(1): 182-192.(PDF)
Additional papers related to polarization:
Ezrow, Lawrence, Jonathan Homola, and Margit Tavits. 2014. “When Extremism Pays: Policy Positions, Voter Certainty, and Party Support in Postcommunist Europe.” Journal of Politics 76(2): 535-547.
Ezrow, Lawrence, Margit Tavits, and Jonathan Homola. 2014. “Voter Polarization, Strength of Partisanship, and Support for Extreme Parties.” Comparative Political Studies 47(11): 1558-1583.
Ward, Hugh, Lawrence Ezrow, and Han Dorussen. 2011. “Globalization, Party Positions, and the Median Voter.” World Politics 63(3): 509-547.