Politics and International Relations (PIR)
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Regional Dynamics of Party Competition


Funding scheme

Project summary

The decentralisation of state structures in Europe has increased the importance of the regional electoral arena. It has given regionalist parties a new platform for their demands, and has caused statewide parties to develop their own territorial strategies. Yet regional party competition is still an under-researched area. This project advances our knowledge by analysing the policy positions of regionalist parties and the territorial preferences of statewide parties. It shows how, in a multilevel, multidimensional context, parties no longer hold fixed ideological or territorial stances. Instead they reposition themselves on both dimensions in response to state restructuring and a volatile electorate.

This project seeks to unpack the territory-ideological nexus in party competition. This requires identifying the ideological position of regionalist parties, and the territorial preferences of substate parties in the same regional settings. This will be done by adapting the methodology and coding scheme employed by the Comparative Manifestos Project (CMP) to the regional setting. The CMP uses quantitative content analysis of the electoral manifestos of political parties to estimate their policy positions (Budge et al 1987). To complement this study, this project will furthermore analyse the territorial positions of regional parties to locate their ideological positions within a common comparative framework. The cases include four states that are currently undergoing different types of constitutional reform the UK, Italy, Germany and Canada. Within each state, two regions are examined and compared one where a regionalist party is strong; and another where it is weak or non-existent, to determine the shaping effect of regionalist parties. This project builds upon research undertaken during the Fellows previous ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2007-8), which examined The Challenges and Opportunities for Substate Territories in Europe.


Conference papers