Ray, Leonard. (1997) "Chickens and eggs: Untangling the party electorate". In: UNSPECIFIED, Seattle, WA. (Unpublished)
The question of European integration is increasingly the object of political debate in the member states of the European Union. The stance taken by a political party on this issue has been shown to be similar to the position taken by the electorate of that party. However, the causal mechanism underlying this link has not been identified. The literature on European integration suggests two contradictory explanations for this link. Bottom up theories of integration suggest that shifts in mass support for integration drive the positions taken by political elites. Neo-functional theories suggest that integration is an elite driven process, and that mass publics mirror the positions taken by political elites. This paper uses a new data set on political party positions on European integration to determine the direction of the causal link between electorate opinion and party position. The results suggest that parties can influence the aggregate opinion of their electorates by taking salient positions on the issue of European integration. However, if this relationship is due to realignment of voters, then parties may not be able to exercise substantial influence on overall aggregate opinion.
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