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Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union$
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Hermann Schmitt and Jacques Thomassen

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198296614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198296614.001.0001

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Policy Preferences and Party Choice

Policy Preferences and Party Choice

(p.161) 8 Policy Preferences and Party Choice
Political Representation and Legitimacy in the European Union

Cees van der Eijk

Mark N. Franklin (Contributor Webpage)

Wouter van der Brug

Oxford University Press

This chapter is the third of six on the question of political representation in the EU, and the third of four that put the five requirements of the Responsible Party Model (outlined in Ch. 6) to an empirical test. The questions investigated here are whether voters have preferences on the issues at stake, and whether those preferences motivate their electoral choices; the analysis is carried out using data from the European Election Study 1994. The data are found largely to support the condition that voters hold policy preferences. They also allow two contrasts to be made while studying determinants of party choice—nation‐specific issues can be contrasted with common issues, and position issues (as exemplified by the common European currency, border control, and unemployment) with valence issues; it can then be seen which of these types of issues are most important in explaining party preferences. In addition, degrees of policy voting can be contrasted in each of the political systems. The results are hardly supportive of the Responsible Party Model in that hardly any motivational basis is found in terms of specific issues and policies for voters’ party preferences; however, the model becomes more persuasive when the focus is not only on specific policy and issue concerns but more generally on substantive political concerns and voter orientations relating to the left–right ideological position of parties.

Keywords:   border control, common European currency, EU, left–right ideology, party choice, party preferences, policy preferences, political concerns, political representation, position issues, Responsible Party Model, unemployment, valence issues

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