The rise of the catch-all party did have important consequences for the ideological course of political parties. Parties did no longer want to focus on one social group, but broadened their programmes in order to attract votes of various social strata. As a result parties gathered in the ideological centre.
This supposed ideological convergence is researched on the socio-economic dimension with a focus on the ideological evolution of the Belgian/Flemish liberal and social-democratic party. The central question is the following: is there ideological convergence to the centre on the socio-economic dimension between the liberal and social-democratic party in the period between 1961 and 2011?
We selected these cases because if convergence is somewhere to be expected, it would show itself certainly in the traditional socio-economical cleavage between socialist and liberal parties. This is the dimension on which both are theoretically each other’s opposites: the former defends state intervention in socio-economic matters, whereas the latter is seen as a supporter of the free market. The socio-economic cleavage also contains the issues that belong to the core business of both parties.
For our research we make use of party manifestoes. These documents are analyzed in a quantitative matter using an expert-coding scheme designed by Laver and Garry (2000) with a few adjustments to the Belgian context. This coding scheme is more fine-grained than the traditional MRG-scheme, which makes it possible to do an in-depth research of the socio-economic cleavage.
Main publications :
KESTELOOT, S., BOUTECA, N., VERLET, D., Belgian political marketing in context. Researching the volatile electorate. In: GOULIAMOS, K., THEOCHAROUS, A. (eds.), (2009, forthcoming) Political marketing. Cultural issues and current trends, New York, Haworth Press.
BLOMME, W., BOUTECA, N., DEVOS, C. (2008). Changing organisational and policy choices for Flemish parties? In: HANLEY, D., DEVOS, C., (eds.), Flemish parties between region, federation and Europe. Brussel, Koninklijke Academie van Belgie voor Wetenschapen en Kunsten.
DEVOS, C. en BOUTECA, N. (2009). Rechts voor de raap of dringen in het centrum: liberalisme op zoek naar een nieuwe lijn. In: Ons Erfdeel, 52 (1), pp. 82-95.
For more information, contact drs. Nicolas Bouteca