Verba volant, scripta manent? Intra-party politics, party conferences and issue salience in France

Ceron, Andrea and Greene, Zachary (2019) Verba volant, scripta manent? Intra-party politics, party conferences and issue salience in France. Party Politics, 25 (5). pp. 701-711. ISSN 1354-0688

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    Abstract

    Intra-party groups influence parties’ policy priorities. However, scholars have yet to map the pathways with the greatest impact. We argue that party congresses serve as venues for decision-making, allowing speeches and motions to support differing priorities. Considering parties’ internal process, we propose that deliberations and alternate motions independently affect resulting policy statements. We examine this perspective focusing on meetings of the French Socialist Party. We use Structural Topic Models to analyze the issues included in 74 motions, 1439 speeches and 9 manifestos from congresses held between 1969 and 2015 to evaluate whether factional motions or individual speeches better reflect the content of manifestos and to assess the internal agenda-setting process. Results suggest that motions better predict the content of parties’ manifestos. However, when focusing solely on majority faction, we find that both motions and speeches predict manifestos’ contents. This supports a theory of intra-party decision-making and factional dominance.