Electoral Competition over State and Nation
How do political parties portray themselves and their agendas in national elections in Western Europe? Examining trends in campaign content from the late 1940s to the present, the paper investigates how changes in the electoral landscape have altered the types of issues emphasized by the major parties. One of the main findings concerns the resilience of the European social model in electoral politics, as dealignment, party system fragmentation, and intensified electoral competition have led the mainstream political parties to pay increasing attention to the welfare state and other forms of state intervention in the economy. Although nationalist and cultural authoritarian appeals also have increased, they have made fewer inroads into the electoral platforms of the mainstream parties than is often portrayed. Partisan competition for key voting constituencies helps explain both trends.