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When dimensions collide: the electoral success of issue entrepreneurs

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Theories of issue evolution and issue manipulation suggest that ‘political losers’ in the party system can advance their position by introducing a new issue dimension. According to these theories, this strategy of issue entrepreneurship, i.e. the attempt to restructure political competition by mobilizing a previously non-salient issue dimension, allows political losers to attract new voters and reap electoral gains. In this study, we examine the extent to which these expectations hold by exploring issue entrepreneurial strategies by political parties when applied to the issue of European integration. Using multilevel modelling to analyse European Election Study data, we firstly show that voters are more likely to cast their ballot for parties which are losers on the extant dimension based on concerns related to European integration. Secondly, a time-series cross-sectional analysis demonstrates that parties which employ an issue entrepreneurial strategy are more successful electorally. In other words, voters are responsive to the issue entrepreneurial strategies of parties. These findings have important implications for our understanding of party competition and electoral behaviour in multiparty systems

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/42034/

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