Elite Interactions and Voters’ Perceptions of Parties’ Policy Positions

James Adams, Simon Weschle, Christopher Wlezien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-114
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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