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Welfare bias in the party system: a neo-downsian explanation for gridlock in economic reform

Padgett, S.A. (2004) Welfare bias in the party system: a neo-downsian explanation for gridlock in economic reform. German Politics, 13. pp. 360-83. ISSN 0964-4008

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Abstract

Employing neo-Downsian theory, the article seeks a party system explanation for the difficulties experienced by political actors in seeking to reform the declining German economy. Taking the UK as a comparator, it investigates the linkages between voter preferences, party positions and government programmes in relation to the market economy and welfare. Whilst the main German parties have recently leapfrogged their UK counterparts in the emphasis placed on the market economy, there is still a 'welfare bias' that inhibits them from adopting sharply defined market positions. Welfare bias is attributed to voter preferences, and, in particular, to the diffuse distribution of voter preferences across the party system.