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Rosa Mulé, "Explaining the Party-Policy Link: Established Approaches and Theoretical Developments," Party Politics, 3 (October 1997), 493-512.

First Paragraph:
What is the link between ruling parties and public policies in a liberal democracy? At two opposite ends of the spectrum stand interpretations based on rational choice theory and political sociology. For the former, political parties formulate policies to maximize votes, for the latter, parties have contrasting goals that are consistent with the interests of their core constituencies. This antonymic perspective of party behaviour reflects a tension in the literature between two separate schools of thought, which are apparently unable to communicate with each other. There is assumed to be a fundamental conflict between the view centred on the role of a party as vote maximizer and the view focused on its role as a representative of social interests.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1: Party-environment interactions

Last Paragraph:
This paper has shown that the mixture of objectives embedded in redistributive policies is more clearly detected if we relax the unitary assumption and forsake the idea of preference homogeneity among party leaders. Once we examine parties as miniature political systems, it is possible to interpret redistributive choices as the equilibrium solution of factional games played in multiple arenas with priority given to internal payoffs. More generally, advances in the party politics literature indicate that reconstructing the history of intra-elite negotiations and conflicts in the light of their policy impact, an area not yet adequately researched, could broaden the scope of debate beyond existing controversies.