Department of Political Science

Issue evolution and partisan polarization in a European multiparty system: Elite and mass repositioning in Denmark 1968–2011

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  • Christoph Arndt
Issue evolution is a well-established theoretical perspective in the analysis of long-term party competition and partisanship in the US. However, this perspective has rarely been used to analyze political elite effects on partisan polarization in European multiparty systems. Consequently, I apply the issue evolution perspective to polarization in a European multiparty system. I find an emergence of cultural issues in Denmark, where mass level polarization on cultural issues followed elite level polarization. Unlike two-party systems, niche parties drive issue evolution on the elite level, which is then followed by niche partisan polarization and, finally, mainstream party adaption. The findings illustrate the mechanisms of issue evolution in a European-style multiparty system and the role of niche parties.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Union Politics
Pages (from-to)660-682
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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