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In the political domain, disgust is primarily portrayed as an emotion that explains individual differences in pathogen avoidance. We hypothesized that political rhetoric accusing opponents of moral transgressions also elicits disgust responses. In this registered report, we present the results from a laboratory experiment. We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological (Levator labii) responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared with in-party leaders. Participants also report higher disgust in response to moral violations of in-party leaders. There is more suggestive evidence that in-party leaders evoke more labii activity when they commit moral violations than when out-party leaders do. The impact of individual differences in moral disgust and partisanship strength is very limited to absent. Intriguingly, on average, the physiological and self-reported disgust responses to the treatment are similar, but individuals differ in whether their response is physiological or cognitive. This motivates further theorizing regarding the concordance of emotional responses.
Canonical theories of opinion formation attribute an important role to affect. But how and for whom affect matters is theoretically underdeveloped. We establish the circumplex model in political science as a theory of core affect. In this theory unconscious emotional processes vary in level (arousal, measured with skin conductance) and direction (valence, measured with facial electromyography). We theorize that knowledge, attitude extremity, and (in)congruence with political rhetoric explain variation in affective responses. In a large lab study (N = 397), participants watched video clips with left-wing or right-wing rhetoric on prominent issues. We find that people with extreme attitudes experience more arousal in response to political rhetoric and that political rhetoric incongruent with prior attitudes evokes negative affect. Moreover, we show that affective responses lead to opinion change, independent of self-reported emotions. We conclude by setting a research agenda for the alignment between affective and cognitive components of emotions and their consequences.
In this study we focus on party organizational characteristics as key determinants of party congruence. We examine how the horizontal and vertical integration of parties is linked to representation in comparative perspective. We further focus on how congruence is achieved by detailing our expectation regarding effects on the uncertainty versus bias in the estimates of party constituents' opinion. Exploiting a comparative database on political parties and data from Comparative Studies of Electoral Systems, we show that having a complex organizational structure and being leadership dominated makes parties less representative of their constituencies. These findings carry important implications for the study of political representation but also for the literature on political parties in crisis.
Automated text analysis allows researchers to analyze large quantities of text. Yet, comparative researchers are presented with a big challenge: across countries people speak different languages. To address this issue, some analysts have suggested using Google Translate to convert all texts into English before starting the analysis (Lucas et al. 2015). But in doing so, do we get lost in translation? This paper evaluates the usefulness of machine translation for bag-of-words models—such as topic models. We use the europarl dataset and compare term-document matrices (TDMs) as well as topic model results from gold standard translated text and machine-translated text. We evaluate results at both the document and the corpus level. We first find TDMs for both text corpora to be highly similar, with minor differences across languages. What is more, we find considerable overlap in the set of features generated from human-translated and machine-translated texts. With regard to LDA topic models, we find topical prevalence and topical content to be highly similar with again only small differences across languages. We conclude that Google Translate is a useful tool for comparative researchers when using bag-of-words text models.
For more than 120 years, political parties have dominated politics in democratic countries. In public debate, however, they have often come in for criticism in recent decades. They are old-fashioned and non-representative, and have a whiff of nepotism about them. It is not for nothing that citizens say they believe political parties are among the most discredited institutions in modern democracy. This observation is certainly not new. Political thinkers such as the Florentine Machiavelli (1469-1527), the French aristocrat Montesquieu (1689-1755) and the American James Madison (1751-1836) warned of the dangers posed by the emergence of factions. These factions were later referred to as political parties. The Irish-English politician Edmund Burke (1729-1797), defined a political party as a group of men who stand for election to promote the public interest based on a shared principle. Later, the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) formulated an alternative definition: political parties are groups of men who stand for office in order to acquire political power. We will return later to this distinction between engaging in politics for the sake of principles (policy-seeking) and engaging in it for the sake of power (office-seeking). These definitions of political parties assume a motive to engage in politics. We can also give a minimum definition of political parties: ‘a political group, identified by a label, which competes in elections and puts candidates forward for public office’. (Sartori 1976: 63)
Political parties have been so fully anchored in modern democracy that we also refer to the current system as party democracy. Political parties are the linchpin of this system, and they are supposed to perform a number of functions. This chapter considers the various criticisms of political parties in relation to the functions they are supposed to fulfil in a democratic system. The broader question is: Do parties still succeed in carrying out their functions? Finally, we will look at whether the various experiments with party organisations can fix existing problems.
The functions of political parties
The functions of political parties in democratic systems can be grouped into three broad categories (see table 1):
1 They recruit, train and select people to be politically active. Parties scout for political talent and offer opportunities to become politically active (recruitment).
Conventional wisdom holds that in order to evade electoral punishment governments obfuscate welfare state retrenchment. However, governments do not uniformly lose votes in elections after they cut back on welfare benefits or services. Recent evidence indicates that some of these unpopular reforms are in fact vote-winners for the government. Our study of eight Danish labor marked related reforms uses insights from experimental framing studies to evaluate the impact of welfare state retrenchment on government popularity. We hypothesize that communicating retrenchment is a better strategy than obfuscating retrenchment measures. In addition, we hypothesize that the opposition’s choice between arguing against the retrenchment measure, or staying silent on the issue, affects the government’s popularity. Thus, the study presents a novel theoretical model of the popularity effects of welfare state retrenchment. In order to evaluate our propositions, we move beyond the standard measure in the literature and use monthly opinion polls to reduce the number of other factors that might affect government popularity. We demonstrate that governments can evade popular punishment by communication. They can even gain popularity if the opposition chooses not to attack. On the other hand, government popularity declines if the government obfuscates – and the decline is even larger if the opposition chooses to attack.
Why do social democrats choose neoliberal labor market policies? Since social democrats are typically punished for welfare state retrenchment and because these policies do not equate well with social democratic egalitarian principles, it is difficult to see what they gain from it. We argue that, depending on the intra-party balance of power between activists and leaders, some parties are office-seeking, whereas others are policy-seeking. This behavioral difference explains why some parties are responsive to environmental incentives such as the economy and public opinion (office-seeking parties) and others are responsive to policy-motivated activists (policy-seeking parties). Using three case studies of social democratic parties (Germany, the Netherlands and Spain) in the period 1980–2010, we analyze when and why these parties introduced neoliberal reforms. The study shows that office-seeking parties introduce neoliberal measures if the risk of losing votes due to an underperforming economy becomes larger than the risk of losing votes due to the mobilization of unions and opposition parties. Policy-seeking social democrats retain a social democratic ideology, unless prolonged failure to win office empowers pragmatic leaders to push through office-seeking strategies.
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