Choice versus sensitivity : Party reactions to public concerns

M.D. McDonald, I. Budge, P.J.M. Pennings

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Most discussions of democratic theory assume that parties should offer clear choices to voters but also show themselves sensitive to public concerns. Under certain circumstances, however, party convergence on these may preclude electoral choice, thus creating conflict between two democratic 'goods'. We examine possible tradeoffs between choice and responsiveness, and see which actually occur in 16 postwar democracies. Party policy positions turn out to be more strongly related to party ideology than popular concerns, thus privileging differentiation and choice over sensitivity and responsiveness. Implications for democratic theory and practice are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-868
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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