perceived anti-establishment party attitude
Joost van Spanje
Posted 15/6/2008 00:00 (#63)
Subject: perceived anti-establishment party attitude


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The perceived anti-establishment attitude of political parties: Two proposed questions

“Anti-system parties” (Sartori 1970: 337; 1976: 132-4; Capoccia 2002; Sartori 1966: 148) have emerged in many democracies around the globe. Willingly or unwillingly, these parties are perceived as opposing the political establishment (cf. Abedi 2002), or the political system more generally. As a result of this image, they are assumed to attract voters with anti-establishment feelings, whose aim is to cast a vote against the establishment (cf. Tillie and Fennema 1998). These voters, it is claimed, do not opt for an “opposition on issues”, but for an “opposition of principle” (Sartori 1976: 133). In the existing literature, several parties have been classified as anti-system (e.g., Budge and Keman 1990: 66-7; Capoccia 2002: 28-9) and/or as “Anti-Political Establishment” (Abedi 2002; Schedler 1996). The concept of the anti-political establishment party is based on Sartori’s concept of the anti-system party (Abedi 2002).

The standard literature typically assumes that voters know about particular characteristics that political scientists attribute to political parties. In addition, a frequently made implicit assumption is that they think in similar ways about a party trait such as anti-systemness. However, voters have generally not been asked about their perceptions of party characteristics. Although notable exceptions to this rule exist (which include left-right placement of parties by voters in previous EES questionnaires), and questions about voter satisfaction with democracy etc. have been included before, there is still a need to know more about the way voters perceive political parties, and how this affects voting behavior. The absence of exact knowledge of voters’ perceptions of political parties prevents us from drawing valid inferences about the influence of, e.g., “anti-systemness” or “anti-establishment feelings” on (individual-level) voting behavior. This is an unfortunate state of affairs, as, in terms of measuring satisfaction with, and quality of democracy, it is important to know to what extent party choice (and, in the absence of anti-establishment parties, perhaps turnout) is guided by feelings of resentment against the political establishment.

This proposal focuses on “anti-political establishment” party attitudes. It links to the hypothesis that voters opt for an extremist party out of protest against the political establishment (but: Van der Brug et al. 2000). In order to assess this hypothesis, one should test whether or not voters attribute the relevant trait to the relevant party, and whether or not they act on that basis. For this, one has to address the question, which voters perceive which parties as anti-political establishment. I suggest measuring this by the proposed questions concerning anti-establishment party attitudes that are stated below. The proposed antithesis between “the ordinary citizen” and “the political establishment” links to the vast strand of the literature that deals with populist parties (e.g., Mudde 2004; Canovan 2002; Mair 2002). Multivariate analyses that include the answers to these questions will enable us to adequately assess the influence of anti-establishment party attitudes on party choice.

All comments welcome!

Q1. “Some people claim that a clash of interests exists [in Germany/ in Italy /...] between the ordinary citizen and the political establishment. To what extent would you agree or disagree with this statement?”

possible answers: agree strongly / agree / agree somewhat / neither agree nor disagree / disagree somewhat / disagree / disagree strongly / DK

Q2. “Is there, in your view, a [German/Italian/...] political party that fights for the interests of the ordinary citizen rather than those of the political establishment?”

possible answers: yes / no / DK

[if yes:]

Q2.a “Which party?”

[probe:]

Q2.b “Are there any other parties that do so?”


References
Abedi, Amir. 2002. "Challenges to established parties: The effects of party system features on the electoral fortunes of anti-political-establishment parties." European Journal of Political Research 41 (4):551-83.
Budge, Ian, and Hans Keman. 1990. Parties and Democracy: Coalition Formation and Government Functioning in Twenty States. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Canovan, Margaret. 2002. "Taking politics to the people: populism as the ideology of democracy." In Democracies and the populist challenge, ed. Y. Meny and Y. Surel: Palgrave.
Capoccia, Giovanni. 2002. "Anti-System Parties. A Conceptual Reassessment." Journal of Theoretical Politics 14 (1):9-35.
Mair, Peter. 2002. "Populist democracy vs party democracy." In Democracies and the populist challenge, ed. Y. Meny and Y. Surel: Palgrave.
Mudde, Cas. 2004. "The populist Zeitgeist." Government and opposition 39 (4):541-63.
Sartori, Giovanni. 1966. "European Political Parties: The Case of Polarized Pluralism." In Political Parties and Political Development, ed. J. LaPalombara and M. Weiner. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
———. 1970. "The Typology of Party Systems - Proposals for Improvement." In Mass Politics. Studies in Political Sociology, ed. E. Allardt and S. Rokkan. New York, NY / London: Free Press & Collier-Macmillan.
———. 1976. Party and party systems: a framework for analysis: Cambridge University Press.
Schedler, Andreas. 1996. "Anti-Political-Establishment Parties." Party politics 2 (3):291-312.
Tillie, Jean, and Meindert Fennema. 1998. "A Rational Choice for the Extreme Right." Acta Politica 33 (3):223-49.
Van der Brug, Wouter, Meindert Fennema, and Jean Tillie. 2000. "Anti-immigrant Parties in Europe: Ideological or protest vote?" European Journal of Political Research 37:77-102.
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SaraHobolt
Posted 16/7/2008 17:01 (#101 - in reply to #63)
Subject: RE: perceived anti-establishment party attitude




Posts: 26
25
Location: University of Oxford, UK
Dear Joost van Spanje:

Thank you for submitting this proposal to the Open Forum. The PIREDEU Steering Committee met at the end of June to evaluate each of the proposals. We assessed them on the basis of whether they met the following criteria:

* An explicit argument about why the proposed question/coding category merited inclusion in one or more of the PIREDEU data components.

* An explicit argument about the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the question/coding category.

* An explicit case for how the question/coding category facilitates integration and linking of several data components. The PIREDEU Steering Committee preferred proposals that allowed for conceptual integration across the five data components (i.e. voter survey, candidate survey, media study, manifestos and contextual data).

* An explicit consideration of how the proposed question/coding category linked with questions/coding categories in past data collection efforts.

The PIREDEU Steering Committee favoured proposals that ensured over time and across instrument comparability. Moreover, given that the voter and candidate surveys can only contain a limited number of question items, priority was given to proposals with succinct question formats.

On this basis we ranked each question in the proposal as follows:

(1) The proposed item will be included in data collection instrument
(2) High priority proposal that will be included if space and time constraints permit
(3) Proposal can only be included if additional funding is secured
(4) Proposed item is not a priority

The item(s) from your proposal received the following ranking(s):

Instrument: Voter Survey

Q1. “Some people claim that a clash of interests exists [in Germany/ in Italy /...] between the ordinary citizen and the political establishment. To what extent would you agree or disagree with this statement?”
Q2. “Is there, in your view, a [German/Italian/...] political party that fights for the interests of the ordinary citizen rather than those of the political establishment?” [if yes:] Q2.a “Which party?”
Q2.b “Are there any other parties that do so?”
Ranking: 3

Rationale: These items were not included because the focus of the voter survey is on EP elections.

Thank you again for your participation in this process. We hope that you will continue to use the Open Forum to comment on the questionnaires/codebook that will be posted online on the Forum in the autumn.

Yours sincerely,


Mark Franklin
Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee

Sara Hobolt
Deputy Chair of the PIREDEU Steering Committee





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