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Party strategies and the dynamics of electoral competition in multiparty democracies

English title Party strategies and the dynamics of electoral competition in multiparty democracies
Applicant Tresch Anke
Number 150451
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut d'études politiques, historiques et internationales (IEPHI) - Faculté des SSP Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.09.2014 - 30.09.2019
Approved amount 972'400.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Political science
Communication sciences

Keywords (10)

comparative campaign communication; policy positions; image priming; issue competition; framing; political parties; elections; Switzerland; Germany; The Netherlands

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
In den letzten Jahren ist die Bedeutung von Wahlkampagnen kontinuierlich gestiegen: die Parteien investieren immer mehr Geld, stützen sich auf professionelle Wahlkampfberater und versuchen mittels moderner Kommunikationsmittel neue Wählerschichten anzusprechen. Solche modernen Wahlkampftechniken haben in der politikwissenschaftlichen Forschung einige Aufmerksamkeit erzielt. Darüber wurde jedoch die Erforschung der eigentlichen Inhalte und Botschaften der Wahlkampagnen vernachlässigt.
Lay summary

Um traditionelle Wählerschaften zu mobilisieren und neue zu gewinnen, definieren Parteien ihre Kommunikationsstrategien in Bezug auf vier Dimensionen des Parteienwettbewerbs: den Themen, welche die Aufmerksamkeit der Wähler wecken sollen; den politischen Positionen, welche die Zustimmung der Wähler gewinnen sollen; den "frames", welche den Wählern signalisieren, wie ein Thema zu verstehen ist; sowie dem Image, welches die Wähler mit einer Partei verbinden sollen.

Das Projekt vergleicht die Wahlkampfkommunikation der politischen Parteien in der Schweiz, Deutschland und den Niederlanden in den zwei letzten nationalen Parlamentswahlen. Die empirische Untersuchung stützt sich auf eine Kombination verschiedener Daten und Methoden. Einerseits führt das Projekt eine quantitative Inhaltsanalyse von Kampagnenmaterial (Wahlprogramme, Zeitungsinserate und Pressemitteilungen) sowie der Berichterstattung verschiedener Tageszeitungen durch. Andererseits stützt es sich auf qualitative Interviews mit den Kampagnenverantwortlichen aller Parteien. Die Auswertung dieser Daten soll aufzeigen, wie vier verschiedene Faktoren - tiefe soziale Konfliktlinien und politische Institutionen (z.B. formelle und informelle Regeln der Regierungsbildung), Umweltfaktoren (z.B. Arbeitslosigkeit, Ausbruch der Finanzkrise, öffentliche Meinung), Parteienmerkmale (z.B. Parteientyp, Wählerstärke, ideologische Ausrichtung) sowie der Interaktionskontext zwischen den Parteien - die Wahlkampfkommunikation der Parteien beeinflussen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.10.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
How parties' issue emphasis strategies vary across communication channels: The 2009 regional election campaign in Belgium
Tresch Anke, Lefevere Jonas, Walgrave Stefaan (2018), How parties' issue emphasis strategies vary across communication channels: The 2009 regional election campaign in Belgium, in Acta politica, (1), 25-47.
Mobilizing and chasing: The voter targeting of negative campaigning - lessons from the Swiss case
StückelbergerSimon, Mobilizing and chasing: The voter targeting of negative campaigning - lessons from the Swiss case, in Party Politics.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
NCCR Democracy Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Année politique suisse, Universität Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
M2P research group, Department of Political Science, University of Antwerp Belgium (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Amber Boydstun, UC Davis United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
UACES Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Issue dialogue and framing strategies: the case of migration policy in the German, Swiss and Dutch Federal Election Campaigns 01.09.2019 Lisbon, Spain Litvyak Olga;
Politicologenetmaal Talk given at a conference The personalization of electoral campaign messages: Evidence from Switzerland 13.06.2019 Antwerp, Belgium Shtyrkova Evgeniya; Tresch Anke;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference Issue dialogue and framing strategies in the German, Dutch, and Swiss federal elections: Energy issue before and after the Fukushima nuclear disaster 06.06.2019 Budapest, Hungary Litvyak Olga;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Image promotion and party image strategies in the electoral competition: the evidence from Switzerland and Germany 05.02.2019 Zurich, Switzerland Shtyrkova Evgeniya;
ECREA Conference Talk given at a conference Issue dialogue and framing strategies in the Swiss, German, and Dutch federal elections: Framing migration and the relations with the EU 31.10.2018 Lugano, Switzerland Litvyak Olga;
UACES Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Talking about Europe: EU-Swiss Relations in the Federal Election Campaigns in Switzerland 2011 and 2015 02.09.2018 Bath, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Litvyak Olga;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference Framing strategies on environment and energy in the recent federal election campaigns in Germany and Switzerland: Responding to the fear of nuclear power after Fukushima? 25.08.2018 Hamburg, Germany Litvyak Olga;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference Issue dialogue and framing strategies in the Swiss, German, and Dutch federal elections: framing migration and the relations with the EU 04.07.2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands Litvyak Olga;
Annual Conference of the European Political Science Association (EPSA) Talk given at a conference The Two-Dimensionality of Issue Ownership in Party Research 21.06.2018 Wien, Austria Stückelberger Simon; Tresch Anke;
ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops Talk given at a conference The personalisation of campaign messages: Evidence from Switzerland 10.04.2018 Nicosia, Cyprus Tresch Anke; Shtyrkova Evgeniya;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference How Parties Frame their Issues: Frame Ownership vs. Frame Diversity 05.02.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Tresch Anke; Litvyak Olga;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Identity politics: which implications for group appeals? 05.02.2018 Genève, Switzerland Stückelberger Simon;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference The personalisation of campaign messages: Evidence from Switzerland 05.02.2018 Genève, Switzerland Tresch Anke; Shtyrkova Evgeniya;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference How Parties Frame their Issues: Frame Ownership vs. Frame Diversity 06.09.2017 Oslo, Norway Litvyak Olga; Tresch Anke;
UACES Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Challenging the Greens: Exploring ecological discourse in the German Federal Elections in 2009 and 2013 04.09.2017 Krakow, Poland Litvyak Olga;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) Talk given at a conference It's not easy being green: environmental discourse int he federal election campaigns in Germany, 2009 and 2013 15.06.2017 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Litvyak Olga;
European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG) Talk given at a conference Gender-based campaigning in Switzerland 08.06.2017 Lausanne, Switzerland Shtyrkova Evgeniya; Tresch Anke;
Graduate Conference on Party Research Talk given at a conference The use of political images by Swiss political parties during the federal election campaigns in 2011 and 2015 10.02.2017 Düsseldorf, Germany Shtyrkova Evgeniya;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference New picture in an old frame: frame diffusion in election campaigns in Switzerland, 2011 and 2015 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Litvyak Olga;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Gender-based campaigning in Switzerland 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Shtyrkova Evgeniya; Tresch Anke;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference The use of political images by Swiss political parties during the federal election campaigns in 2011 and 2015 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Shtyrkova Evgeniya;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference The boundary making by political parties: How social group categories are used in election campaigns in Switzerland and Germany 11.01.2017 St. Gallen, Switzerland Stückelberger Simon;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference Mobilizing and chasing: The voter targeting of negative campaigning. Lessons from the Swiss case 07.09.2016 Prague, Czech Republic Stückelberger Simon;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference The art of framing: explaining framing mechanisms in the 2011 and 2015 election campaigns in Switzerland 07.09.2016 Prague, Czech Republic Litvyak Olga;
UACES Conference Talk given at a conference Hello, Goodbye! Framing of the EU-Swiss Relations by the Swiss Parties in the 2011 and 2015 Federal Elections 05.09.2016 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Litvyak Olga;
ECPR Graduate Student Conference Talk given at a conference Explaining framing mechanisms in election campaigns in Switzerland in 2011 and 2015 10.07.2016 Tartu, Estonia Litvyak Olga;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) Talk given at a conference It is not (only) what you say but how you say it: explaining framing mechanisms in 2011 and 2015 election campaigns in Switzerland 27.06.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Litvyak Olga;
MPSA Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Issue Ownership and Campaign Rhetoric 07.04.2016 Chicago, United States of America Tresch Anke; Stückelberger Simon;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Negative campaigning as a chasing and mobilizing strategy. Lessons from the Swiss case 22.01.2016 Basel, Switzerland Stückelberger Simon;
Annual Congress of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Campaign communication, media coverage and issue ownership stability and change 22.01.2016 Basel, Switzerland Tresch Anke;
CES Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Campaign communication, media coverage and issue ownership stability and change 08.07.2015 Paris, France Tresch Anke;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference Playing on your strengths or your opponent's? Party issue attention in the 2009 Belgian election campaign 03.09.2014 Glasgow, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tresch Anke;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project 27.06.2016 Geneva, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Angriff ist die beste Mobilisierung: Negative Kampagnen und ihre Zielgruppen https://www.defacto.expert German-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2020

Abstract

The overall aim of my project is to explain why political parties choose the election campaign strategies they do. The project argues that political parties compete with each other on four related dimensions of electoral competition: the issues that dominate the election campaign and get public attention, the policy positions that win the support of the electorate, the frames that define what is at stake with the issue, and the party images that influence public perceptions of party competence and commitment. Previous research has developed on each aspect of party competition, but has largely failed to analyze how the different dimensions are connected. This is a major shortcoming: by focusing on selected dimensions of electoral competition, previous scholarship has neglected that a) all parties do not emphasize every dimension to the same extent, and b) that parties do not necessarily choose the same strategies when faced with any given issue; while some may shift their policy positions, others may try to reframe the debate in a more favorable way, or shift attention toward party images. Hence, a major challenge for this project is to develop a unified theoretical framework that offers a more comprehensive view on parties' campaign strategies, and the dynamic interplay between them. This unified approach rests on the idea that parties make strategic choices on each of the four dimensions of electoral competition. They decide whether they want to promote party-favored issues only or also engage with other parties' issues; whether they advocate clear policy measures or remain vague about how to handle issues; whether they stay put or strategically shift their positions; whether they reframe a debate and promote their own way of understanding an issue or take up other parties' frames; and, finally, whether, and how, they prime their own positive party image or try to damage the image of rivals. These choices can combine in several ways and oscillate between two ideal-typical campaign strategies: mobilizing and chasing (see, Rohrschneider, 2002). Parties' desire to mobilize their own base leads to an emphasis of traditional, party-owned issues, clear and stable issue positions, substantive frames that are consistent with a party's ideology, and a focus on priming a positive party image. Parties' desire to enlarge their electoral basin leads to attention shift towards salient issues, popular positions, new frames, and a focus on painting a negative image of opposing parties. The project assumes that parties are constantly torn between these two ideals, and combine elements of each depending on four sets of factors: deep social cleavages and institutional structures, environmental factors, party characteristics, and the dynamic interaction context between parties.Empirically, the project investigates parties' campaign strategies, and their dynamic interplay, from a cross-national comparative perspective. It builds on a most similar systems design and focuses on three countries - Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Germany - that differ with regard to the dominant structure of competition for government office. In each country, the analysis focuses on the two most recent national elections and all parties with parliamentary representation. To offer a comprehensive and compelling examination of parties' campaign strategies, the project evaluates its theoretical expectations using a variety of different data sources and methodological techniques. On the one hand, it rests on a quantitative content analysis of parties' own campaign material (electoral manifestos, political ads, press releases) and of front-page election news coverage in the major quality and tabloid-style newspapers in each country during the two months before Election Day. On the other hand, it resorts to personal interviews with parties' campaign managers and a case-study approach to understand the background and context surrounding each election. In doing so, this study intends to move forward our understanding of the dynamic and inherently complex nature of election campaigns in multiparty West European democracies, where parties face multiple competitors and must decide how to compete with potential coalition partners.
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