PARTIES’ GROUP APPEALS AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS FOR INTER- AND INTRA-PARTY BEHAVIOR
Johns Hopkins University
Parties’ group appeals, their structure, content, and influence on other aspects of party behavior are of great concern to those who study politics and political representation. As social groups are essential to the political process, understanding the ways in which parties appeal to these groups qua groups is important for a complete view of the relationship between parties and voters. Yet not much attention has been paid to these appeals thus far. This study is one of the first to systematically analyze group appeals as a distinct concept. It conceptualizes them as representational claims and examines them empirically utilizing a novel dataset that is comparative both over time and space. Quantitative text analysis is used to analyze 249 election manifestos and 2772 print campaign advertisements broadly defined to include posters, flyers, pamphlets, leaflets, stickers, and ads placed in newspapers of 69 parties in Israel and the Netherlands between 1977 and 2015. The main argument in this study is that group appeals are the crucial first step in the process of political representation and are made by parties to express their identity as representative actors. As such, group appeals are central to parties’ fulfillment of their representative functions in modern democracies. The analysis shows trends in group appeals over time, compares them across the communication channels, and uses them as independent variables in the analysis of inter- and intra-party behavior—specifically coalition formation and choice of candidate-selection methods. Though results are mixed with respect to the hypotheses proposed, they illustrate the importance of examining group appeals. Approaching them as an integral part of the representative process, and therefore more than “just” a strategic decision made in the context of party competition, the study sheds light on political parties’ behavior, enhancing our understanding of political representation and intra- and inter-party dynamics.
Party Politics, Group Appeals, Political Representation, Candidate Selection, Coalition Formation