Parties’ group appeals as representational claims in Israel and the Netherlands, 1977-2015
Alona Dolinsky, Johns Hopkins University
In representative democracies, parties play a vital role in the political system. During election campaigns, they appeal to voters in their capacity as representatives. The most common form of appeal examined by scholars is policy (what party say), but there is also a second form—group appeal—that parties make (whom they say it to). This thesis aims to better understand group appeals, defined as explicitly stated support of some social group category(ies) like workers, pensioners, or disabled people. This chapter focuses on defining, conceptualizing and operationalizing group appeals as a concept. It argues that while acting in their role as representatives, parties use group appeals to indicate to voters which party would best represent them. These appeals, defined as explicitly stated support of some social group category(ies), vary in breadth, from very broad (to many groups) to very narrow (to very few groups), over time and between countries. The chapter also lays out the theoretical expectations and presents a small part of the empirical analysis found in the first part of the doctoral thesis. The analysis shows that parties use manifestos and print campaign advertisements differently, revealing an important element of parties’ appeals to voters. This thesis approaches group appeals as an integral part of the representative process and, therefore, more than “just” a strategic decision made in the context of party competition. It shed a light on party behavior, enhancing our understanding of political representation and intra- and inter-party dynamics.