Knowing Your Audience: Measuring and Understanding Party Messaging and Branding in Modern Europe Open Access

Maxwell, Laura (Fall 2018)

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This dissertation explores the nature of party messaging strategy in Modern Europe. More specifically, it explicates a novel approach to quantifying and explaining the ways in which parties choose to cultivate a brand through the use of topic modeling on party manifestos to create unbiased, consistent estimates of party message consistency and specificity across sixteen democracies in Europe. Substantively, this project addresses the question: what are the incentives to create a brand? Many party systems in the new democracies of Post-Communist Europe are seemingly trapped in a volatile electoral environment with a large proportion of the parties failing to attract and maintain a partisan following from election to election. This project explores the incentive structures that exist to promote this behavior. And finally, as opposed to much of the existing literature on party branding, I approach this problem from the perspective of the consequences that it can have on the party system as a whole and its effect on government stability. Taking this approach highlights the constraints that branding places on parties and how that effects the nature of the coalitions formed to govern.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

1.1 Conceptualizing Branding

1.1.1 Defining the Party Brand

1.1.2 Motivations to Cultivate a Brand

1.2 Applications of Party Branding Measures

1.3 Organization of the Book

2 The Incentives and Consequences of Branding Strategies

2.1 Incentives for Branding Strategy

2.1.1 Characteristics of the Electorate

2.1.2 Characteristics of the Party

2.1.3 Electoral Volatility and Branding

2.2 Consequences of Branding Strategies

2.2.1 Party Branding and Uncertainty

2.2.2 Government Inclusion and Formation

2.2.3 Bargaining Duration

2.3 Expectations

2.4 Conclusion

3 Measuring Party Branding with Manifestos

3.1 Existing Approaches to Measurement

3.2 The Method: Latent Dirichlet Allocation

3.2.1 Gathering and Pre-Processing the Manifestos

3.2.2 Implementation of the Model using R

3.2.3 Naming and Clustering the Topics

3.2.4 Validating the Model

3.2.5 Creating the Measures

3.3 Conclusion

4 Incentivizing Party Branding Strategies

4.1 Expectations

4.1.1 Role of the Electorate

4.1.2 Role of the Party

4.1.3 Role of the Party System

4.2 Empirical Analysis

4.2.1 The Data

4.3 Findings

4.4 Conclusion

5 Consequences of Branding on Government

5.1 Expectations

5.1.1 Inclusion in Coalition Government

5.1.2 Duration of Government Formation

5.2 Empirical Analysis

5.2.1 The Data

5.2.2 Independent Variables

5.2.3 Government Inclusion

5.2.4 Government Inclusion: Findings

5.2.5 Government Formation

5.2.6 Government Formation: Findings

5.3 Conclusion

6 Conclusion

6.1 Contributions and Findings

6.2 Future Avenues for Research

A Appendix A

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