Political Responsiveness

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Lawrence McKay

Hi Chris – loved the paper! I remember coming across these polls when writing my dissertation on the 1981 Budget, and now wish I’d done something with them! The setup is very neat and highly original so well done with that. Your next steps sound very sensible as well. I definitely think some of the ideas about controls are good (e.g. Thatcher’s popularity) but not so sure on economic indicators. I wouldn’t expect them to be systematically less or more responsive depending on conditions. They might be less or more responsive on particular policies, but your outcome is presumably the… Read more »

Chris Butler

Thanks Lawrence! Those are really interesting points. On controlling for economic indicators, I think it would still be interesting to look at those given how the economic conditions may constrain the costs for governments in borrowing more to fund responsive policies.

I transcribed these polls results by hand from the archives and didn’t include all the cross tabs as they were small samples! But it might well be worth going back and looking at the class breakdowns.

Giorgia Borgnino

Hi William! Thank you for your presentation. I find your project very interesting. In particular, I really like your methodology. It is not easy to find a way to study these phenomena, to find something concrete to observe, and I believe that the text analysis can really help with that. Your findings are also very interesting, and you seem to really contribute in some way to the existing literature with your paper. And that’s always amazing! I just wanted to ask you something: have you considered also the role that the decline of partisan membership can play in the recent… Read more »

William Horncastle

Hi Giorgia, thank you for watching and for commenting on my presentation. I have been trying to work out how to present my findings for a while, so am glad that you managed to follow! On your comment on party membership decline, I certainly think that that could have an impact on the long term increasing trends in public funding. While this has had support in a European setting (e.g. Katz and Mair’s Cartel Party Thesis), one study has attempted to test this theory in Canada and found little evidence to support it. One observation that seemingly negates this trend… Read more »

Giorgia Borgnino

Thanks for your suggestions. I’ll look into it. 

Giorgia Borgnino

Hi Chris! Really great project. We are interested in a similar topic. But while I study if policy outputs are related to parties policy preferences, you explore the association with their electorate’s preferences. They seem two valid (and complementary) explanations for the same question “why do parties implement some policies instead of others?”. Don’t you think? About your future steps: How many cases do you have? Are they enough for building up logistic regression models? I ask because with a colleague, we were trying to structure a project that looks at how parties in government are influenced by their policy… Read more »

Chris Butler

Hi Giorgia! Thanks so much for your comments and for sharing your really impressive paper. I have found a lot more examples of privately commissioned polling but for now have just focused on the first Thatcher government’s macroeconomics for reasons of scope. Most of these old polls are in archive so I have to transcribe the results by hand, rather than starting from a database. I don’t know about data for the Italian case, but the Comparative Agendas Project has data on salience across many countries, and John Bartle & colleagues have collated data on voters’ preferences on a range… Read more »

Giorgia Borgnino

Hi Chris, thanks for your feedback on my paper. I’m looking for some data on the salience because clearly it can have an influence on parties’ incentives. But I’m really struggling. I know CAP data but they are only related to parties’ preferences while I’m more interested in the role of citizens’ priorities. I’ll try to find some dataset, just to have an idea of the place that the public opinion has. Concerning the definition of pledges as ‘party policy preferences’, you are right. I decided to focus on electoral programs, conceived as a concrete object to assess partisan ideology,… Read more »

William Horncastle

Hi Chris – thank you for sharing your paper with us. I found you presentation very interesting and think that your next steps sound good. Methodologically, I would agree with you, and with the other commenters, that a regression model with some controls for political conditions would be a great way to go. One thing that may be interesting is to dig deeper into the content/themes of proposed policies that are responded to/not responded to – there may be some interesting finding as to why the party are willing to respond to certain types of policy over others. Another potential… Read more »

Chris Butler

Thanks William! I would love to look at more cases too but it’s tricky to find this kind of data. I have done some analysis of which types of policies were more responded to than others but didn’t find any obvious patterns.

Chris Butler

Hi William, great presentation and really informative. I wondered from your research what you thought were the conditions which would best enable a virtuous cycle of campaign finance regulation

William Horncastle

Hi Chris, thank you for your interest in my research – I’m glad you found the presentation informative. According to Nwokora, the virtuous cycle is most likely to occur in response to a scandal, particularly when the incumbent party lean toward the left ideologically. In my study, I have largely found evidence to support this. In Australia and New Zealand, scandals were often easy to identify as the trigger for tightening reforms (i.e. the virtuous cycle). Interestingly, in Canada, the Watergate scandal of the US (and not a Canadian scandal) has been cited as the justification for introducing more widespread… Read more »

Brian Boyle

Hi William,   Really enjoyed the presentation. The clear links between ideology and scandals regarding the tightening/loosening of restrictions, alongside that the relative importance of each of the three drivers seems to vary between systems is so interesting. Do you think you’d expect to find similar patterns in other countries with more proportional electoral systems as you did in New Zealand? The competition driver that lets parties reduce the costs of defeat seems to be bang on for so many consensual European democracies where successive governments are made up of coalitions of the same parties in slightly varying orders.  … Read more »

William Horncastle

Hi Brian, Thanks for watching! Thanks for your questions also – I think that there could be similar patterns observed in proportional systems elsewhere. As you said, the solidification of a multi-party system, where more parties play a significant role in elections, would expect to breed more of a competitive dimension. With more parties involved, reducing the costs of defeat may be more significant than in a two party/FPTP system. I appreciate the comment on case selection – I had actually intended to include the US alongside my three cases, to see how the model holds across further types of… Read more »

Fraser McMillan

Comment for Giorgia Firstly, thank you for this presentation. I already think you have an excellent contribution to the election pledge literature here. Far too little is known about how issue areas and pledges are related, and your findings about the interaction between economic pledge fulfilment and GDP are fascinating and very revealing. This type of research represents a positive development for the area – moving beyond the question of pledge fulfilment per se to test more fundamental theories about party competition. The method is a perfect fit for the research question and I think even without the comparative element… Read more »

Giorgia Borgnino

Hi Fraser, thank you for listening to my presentation!
Yes, I coded the Italian pledges my self (very time-consuming indeed) and now I’m starting with the French ones. 
I don’t know how, but I totally missed the volume edited by Naurin, Thomson and Royed that you mentioned. Thanks a lot for suggesting it!!!

Fraser McMillan

Oh wow you’re starting another whole country – truly a heroic effort!

No problem. FYI I maintain a pledge literature tracker which I regularly update with new papers, you might find it helpful for the thesis (link).

You might also find it helpful to reach out to Natalia Natsika at Gothenburg who has done some research on pledge fulfilment in Greece during times of crisis.

Best of luck, I look forward to seeing more of your research in future!

Giorgia Borgnino

Wow, thanks a lot!!!!

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