Bischof, Daniel. 2018. “Ideological Congruence between Party Rhetoric & Policy-Making.” West European Politics 41(2): 310-328.

Scholars and journalists alike question whether political parties keep their electoral promises. An ever growing body of literature provides empirical evidence that parties indeed keep their electoral pledges. Yet, we know little about the congruence between party rhetoric between elections and the policies delivered by them. Given the increasing influence of party rhetoric in the media for voting decisions, it is highly relevant to understand if parties `walk like they talk’. The paper suggests that due to electoral reasons parties face strong incentives to deliver policy outputs which are congruent to their daily rhetoric. Analyzing data on 54 policy outputs on nuclear energy drafted by 24 parties after the Fukushima accident, I find overwhelming evidence that parties deliver ideologically congruent policy outputs to their rhetoric (incongruent only in 7.89%). These findings have important implications for our understanding of the linkage between party communication and the masses in modern media democracies.

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Key findingParty rhetoric and parties’ policy outputs on nuclear energy are largely congruent after the meltdown at Fukushima (2011). This result is also not conditioned by incumbency and robust across different policy outputs.