Disentangling peripheral parties’ issue packages in subnational elections

Abstract

Our main objective in this article is to disentangle the diverse components of peripheral parties’ ‘issue packages’ and to show the different ways in which a peripheral party can present its nationalist credentials according to the strategic needs imposed by each particular context. Against one stream of literature that sees peripheral parties as single-issue or niche parties, we use manifesto data to demonstrate that peripheral parties do not limit their issue appeal to just one dimension of competition. On the contrary, as strategic and vote-maximising parties, they have a highly diversified issue portfolio. We also argue that the centre-periphery dimension has a complex issue structure that allows peripheral parties to offer attractive moderate images without renouncing their nationalist identity. For our analysis, we use the Regional Manifestos Project data on peripheral parties’ manifestos in Spain and the United Kingdom (Convergence and Union, Catalonian Republican Left, Basque Nationalist Party, EH-Bildu, Galician Nationalist Block, Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru) in their respective last regional elections (2011–2012).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As Gunther and Diamond (2001, p. 27) put it, the programmatic party ‘has much more of a distinct, consistent, and coherent programmatic or ideological agenda than does the ideal-type catch-all party, and it clearly incorporates those ideological or programmatic appeals in its electoral campaigns and its legislative and government agenda.’

  2. 2.

    Manifesto Research on Political Representation, previously known as the Comparative Manifestos Project.

  3. 3.

    For a more detailed explanation of how this methodology works, including the definition of the categories, please visit the RMP project’s website: www.regionalmanifestosproject.com.

  4. 4.

    Outright demands for independence or calls for a referendum on independence belong to our identitarian (nation-building) dimension. The reason is that calls for independence go beyond the competence bargaining of a decentralized state. Independence is defended as a national right to self-determination. Preferences for independence are captured by code 22_601. According to this, our parties would be ordered from the most to the least independentist in 2011–12: ERC (6.2), CiU (4.8), PNV (2), SNP (1.8), BNG (1.5), EH-Bildu (0.2) and PC (0).

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Acknowledgements

The work reported in this article has been funded in part by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Spain) through the National Plans of Research, Development and Technological Innovation (PN I+D+i) under the project Regional Manifestos Project (CSO2012-34704).

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Correspondence to Sonia Alonso.

Appendix

Appendix

Table A1

Table A1 Classification scheme of competence preferences

Table A2

Table A2 Standard policy categories and regional sub-categoriesa

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Alonso, S., Cabeza, L. & Gómez, B. Disentangling peripheral parties’ issue packages in subnational elections. Comp Eur Polit 15, 240–263 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/cep.2015.15

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Keywords

  • peripheral parties
  • issue packages
  • salience and position
  • subnational elections