Ruth Dassonneville | How Does Voter Perception Shape Partisanship?

Ruth Dassonneville | How Does Voter Perception Shape Partisanship?

Thursday, March 7, 2024
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Encina Hall 2nd floor, William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Ruth Dassonneville, Université de Montréal

Do citizens' perceptions of parties' multidimensional issue positions shape partisanship? Dassonneville, Fournier and Somer-Topcu use survey data from 11 countries to study this question.

There is a growing consensus in the field of party politics that new political fault lines are emerging and scholars increasingly characterize party competition as multidimensional. However, the level and nature of change differ widely between countries, resulting in variation in the extent to which new ideological dimensions structure oppositions between parties, and important differences in the extent to which new fault lines cross-cut existing ideological oppositions. It has been argued that such differences are important, because the cross-cuttingness of parties’ positions on different ideological dimensions determines the clarity of parties’ brands and in this way shapes party attachments (Dassonneville, Fournier and Somer-Topcu 2022). 

Most of what we know about the connection between parties’ position, brand clarity and partisanship relies on expert- or manifesto-based estimates of the positions that parties take, forcing scholars to assume that voters are perfectly informed about parties’ positions on multiple dimensions and about the oppositions between parties. To address this limitation, we rely on an original data collection of surveys in 11 countries in which we asked respondents to position parties on six different issues, capturing economic, social, and cultural divisions. Our design allows connecting citizens’ perceptions of the space of party competition in their country to their views about the clarity of parties’ ideological brands and measures of partisanship. Using this novel dataset, we provide unique individual-level insights into the ways in which party positions and the restructuring of party competition shape party attachments.

Ruth Dassonneville is an Associate Professor in the political science department at the Université de Montréal, where she holds the Canada Research Chair in Electoral Democracy.

Her research interests include electoral behaviour, dealignment, economic voting, compulsory voting, and women and politics. Her work on these topics has been published in, amongst others, the American Journal of Political Science, the British Journal of Political Science, the European Journal of Political Research and the Journal of Politics. In 2023, she published Voters Under Pressure with Oxford University Press.

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