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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 ]

First paragraph:
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 Tables:
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.

Last Paragraph:
(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.

Last updated April 2014