chapter  2
Electorate- orientated strategies
Pages 26

Established polit ical par ties can engage in a range of beha vi ours to attempt to improve or maintain their position within their national party sys tems. In line with rational choice as sump tions, polit ical par ties seek to maximise their utility. According to Katz (2002) and Downs (1957), par ties can attempt to do this by engaging in strat egies that are responsive to voters’ existing pref er ences, but equally by seeking to mould their views before election time. This chapter ex plores the electorate-orientated strat egies that estab lished par ties might engage in, and assesses the extent to which estab lished par ties engage in strat egies that are responsive and open towards the electorate. A number of different strat egy dimensions can indicate responsiveness towards the electorate, and intent to shape the views of the electorate. As estab lished par ties are prim arily officeseeking, the focus will be on strat egies that pertain to the ways in which par ties can respond to, or shape voter pref er ences, through the co ali tions in which they choose to engage.1 This chapter engages in consecutive discussion of five electorate-orientated dimensions chosen to illus trate the extent to which estab lished par ties engage in strat egies towards the electorate: ideo logical change; elect oral responsiveness; relations with anti-political estab lishment par ties; pre-electoral co ali tion agreements; and length of co ali tion agreements. This chapter discusses these five areas derived from the liter at ure that seek to capture estab lished par ties’ relations with the electorate. Data produced from the study of 17 coun tries generates hypotheses concerning the expected sys temic impact of engagement in these electorate-orientated strat egies. The ana lysis weights all dimensions equally when con sidering the coun tries in which estab lished par ties engage in the highest and lowest levels of electorate-orientated strat egies in Chapter 4.