Maintaining partisan ties : preference divergence and partisan collaboration in Western Europe

Greene, Zachary and Haber, Matthias (2016) Maintaining partisan ties : preference divergence and partisan collaboration in Western Europe. Party Politics. ISSN 1354-0688 (In Press)

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    Abstract

    Parties coordinate on a range of activities. They invite leaders from other parties to their national meetings, run joint electoral platforms and even form parliamentary factions and coalition governments. The implications of regular cooperation such as the case of pre-electoral coalitions (PECs) for party positioning are unexplored. Parties form PECs to reduce competition for voters with ideologically close competitors and to signal their ability to cohesively govern. Building on this logic, we argue that parties’ preferences converge in PECs to demonstrate their ability to govern together and diverge when parties observe that this tactic has failed to attract voter support in past elections. We demonstrate support for our approach using data on electoral coalition participation, party positions and parties’ internal speeches. Additional evidence from an extreme case of an enduring electoral coalition in Germany shows that PECs have dramatic effects on parties’ positions.