Proximity Voting And Its Effect On The Party 's Policy Preferences And Their Personal Preferences

Proximity Voting And Its Effect On The Party 's Policy Preferences And Their Personal Preferences

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Down’s (1957) proximity voting model highlights that voters evaluate a party based on a distance or proximity between the party’s proposed policy platform and their personal preferences. The closer a party’s position to the voter’s policy preferences, the higher is the voter’s utility from voting for this party. Under this model, it is assumed that rational voters choose parties that represent their policy preferences best. This assumption is rational for several reasons. First, all parties value electoral benefits at least to a certain extent. Second, a high vote share is necessary to enter parliament and typically the higher a party’s vote share, the higher is its bargaining power in parliament, its chances of forming government and implementing its preferred policies. Lastly, it’s parsimonious to focus on vote-seeking incentives rather than policy-seeking behavior. Furthermore, as Sartori (1976) noted “that models should be tested primarily by the accuracy of their predictions rather than by the reality of their assumptions” (Sartori 312).
Following the logic outlined above, we would expect parties to move to the center of the policy space because electorally rewarding positions are located at the center of policy space. This is true for the mainstream parties because they are mostly on the center right or center left of the political spectrum. However, the emergence of niche parties across the Western Europe have complicated the understanding of the party competition (implications for spatial model). Meguid (2005) concluded that “competition is not restricted to interaction between ideological neighbors, as the standard spatial theory claims; non-proximal parties play a critical role in the success and failure of Western Euro...


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...ve importance of issues than on substantive policies. The method therefore only reports the salience of an issue and not its substance. In other words, this method is open to criticism because it does not differentiate positive from negative references to an issue. Moreover, as Selb and Pituctin (2010) noted, models of party formation and success suffer from biased inferences because “multi –period data are simultaneously structured in space and time” (Selb and Pituctin 148).
In short, there needs to be a unified definition of niche party concept that include disparate parties such as Communist, Green and Ethno/Regional parties. Furthermore, there should be a continuous measurement of niche party concept rather than measurement based on family membership like previous studies. If this is done properly, it will greatly enhance our understanding of party competition.

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