Recent research documents that voters infer that governing coalition partners share similar ideologies, independently of these parties’ actual policy statements. We argue that citizens estimate party positions from more general forms of interparty cooperation and conflict, particularly near the times of national elections. We analyze tens of thousands of media reports on elite interactions from 13 Western democracies between 2001 and 2014, and show that—controlling for coalition arrangements and for the policy tones of parties’ election manifestos—voters infer greater left–right agreement between pairs of parties that have more cooperative public relationships, but that this “cooperation effect” is only evident near the times of national elections. Our findings have implications for parties’ policy images and for mass–elite linkages.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations