The effect of incumbency on ideological and valence perceptions of parties in multilevel polities

  • Susumu Shikano
  • Dominic NyhuisEmail author


A number of studies recently have investigated party position-taking in multilevel polities. Given the attempts of federally organized parties to tailor their messages to their audiences, we investigate the voter side of the equation: Are voters sufficiently politically sophisticated to pick up on highly differentiated policy signals? Following common conceptions of political preferences, we argue that citizens have a heuristic view of party competition that is shaped by ideological and valence factors, where the latter are much less challenging to process than the former. Accordingly, citizens are able to differentiate only between the national and the regional party on the valence dimension. We argue that a valence delta between different party branches is most likely to be perceived in contexts of high media exposure, particularly when parties are in government. Results from an analysis of survey data covering 21 German state-level elections support those expectations.


Spatial models of party competition Valence Federalism Germany 


Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 198 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public AdministrationUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Political ScienceLeibniz University HannoverHannoverGermany

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