Explaining left-right party congruence across European political parties: A test of Przeworski-Sprague’s party competition theory
Left and Right: the Great Dichotomy Revisited
Empirical studies on representation have been based mainly on the descriptive analysis of levels of political or ideological congruence between MPs and voters. Very few studies focus on explaining congruence. This article contributes to filling this gap by testing whether the Przeworski-Sprague party competition theory can help to explain left-right congruence among European parties. Based on data from the PIREDEU project, the study examines the party systems of the 27 countries of the European Union (corresponding to 144 political parties) with reference to the 2009 European Parliament elections. The findings reveal that MP-voter congruence is well explained by the theory, supporting that parties whose electoral strategies are centre-oriented (catch-all type) tend to produce higher levels of ideological congruence with their voters than more ideological parties.
political parties, left-right, MP candidates, voters, congruence, Europe