Party Ideologies and UN Debate

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Comparative research on the relevance of partisan government for foreign policy is still rare. We analyze the importance of party ideologies for foreign policy priorities as revealed in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). In doing so, we contribute to an increasing number of studies on the relevance of the partisan theory of public policy (Hibbs 1977) for foreign policy making. On the theoretical side, we expect liberal governments to direct more diplomatic efforts towards global development cooperation, i.e. the fight against poverty, disease, environmental degradation and discrimination. By comparison, we argue that the foreign policy of conservative governments emphasizes immediate conflicts and threats to national sovereignty.
On the empirical side, we present the first statistical analysis of all plenary speeches held by the representatives of 38 stable democracies before the UN General Assembly (UNGA) between 1993 and 2016. Our empirical analysis reveals that liberal, internationalist governments are significantly more engaged in UNGA debates on global development, whereas conservative, anti-internationalist governments allocate more speaking time to debates on the international law and institutions, including issues of national sovereignty. These results are confirmed when zooming in to UN General Debates, with the exception that conservative heads of state and government spend more time speaking about conflict and crisis than their liberal counter parts. Importantly, we find that all of these effects are conditional on governing parties commanding substantive majorities in their national parliament.
Original languageEnglish
JournalParty Politics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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