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Revista Uruguaya de Ciencia Política

Print version ISSN 0797-9789On-line version ISSN 1688-499X


GORP, Johannes A.A.M. van. Ideas and the Study of Political Parties: The Added Value of the Discursive Institutionalist Approach. Rev. Urug. Cienc. Polít. [online]. 2015, vol.24, n.spe, pp.15-28. ISSN 0797-9789.

There are four methods often used to study party locations along salient cleavages in party systems: expert surveys, content analysis of party manifestos, media analyses and broad opinion surveys of electorates. Most of the literature that explores the relationship between political parties and these cleavages has two shortcomings: (1) it treats parties as cohesive units, and (2) while the combination of policies adopted by a party is considered important, almost none consider how they are communicated to the voters. Both matter: if politicians within a party remain torn over an issue, parties will have a difficult time agreeing on what position to take and cannot effectively communicate their ideas to the public. That is why one should examine the coordinative and communicative discourses of parties. Coordinative discourse encompasses the process whereby political actors agree on a policy program, while communicative discourse is the process through which this program is framed. To provide evidence for this argument, communicative discourse in the Netherlands is discussed.

Keywords : Discursive institutionalism; party politics; discourse; Dutch politics; party cohesion.

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