Marc van de Wardt, "Putting
the damper on: Do parties de-emphasize issues in response to
internal divisions among their supporters?," Party
Politics, 20 (May 2014), 330-340. [Available at
For a long time, parties have formed along (and expressed)
fundamental socio-economic, religious and cultural cleavages
in society, and Scholars in political science have argued
that since the 1970s party and electoral competition is
increasingly structured by a diversity of policy issues
rather than long-established social cleavages. Non-economic
issues such as the environment, refugees and immigrants or
law and order have been on the rise (Dalton, 1996; Dalton
andWattenberg, 2000; Franklin et al., 1992; Green-Pedersen
and Krogstrup, 2008; Green- Pedersen and Mortensen, 2010).
To date, a large body of literature exists that addresses
how political parties adjust their issue positions to
themean position of their supporters (Carrubba, 2001;
Steenbergen et al., 2007; Wessels, 1995, 1999). Furthermore,
based on the European integration issue, Steenbergen and
Scott (2004) have demonstrated that parties lower the
salience of the EUissue when they are further removed from
the position of their supporters.
- Figures and
- Table 1. Evaluating the effect of internal divisions
on changes in EU issue salience.
- Table 2. Evaluating the effect of internal divisions
for niche parties.
- Table 3. Evaluating the effect of internal divisions
for niche party families.
(first paragraph of conclusion) The main research questions
were whether internal divisions among a party's support base
are a disincentive for parties to place an issue on the
party political agenda and if this linkage is moderated by
the type of party. Based on the EU issue, the results
provide convincing empirical evidence that parties contain
the salience of issues over which their supporters are
divided.24 Niche parties, however, are not more likely to do
so than mainstream parties. There is even moderate evidence
that green parties increase issue salience in response to
higher levels of internal divisions. Notwithstanding the
importance of these results, this study raises several
questions to which answers still should be found.