Volume 54, Issue 3 p. 601-621
Original Article

How voters' perceptions of junior coalition partners depend on the prime minister's position

David Fortunato

Corresponding Author

David Fortunato

University of California–Merced, USA

Address for correspondence: David Fortunato, University of California–Merced, 5200 N. Lake Road, Merced, CA 95343, USA. E-mail: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
James Adams

James Adams

University of California–Davis, USA

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First published: 23 April 2015
Citations: 43


Recent studies document that voters infer parties' left-right policy agreement based on governing coalition arrangements. This article extends this research to present theoretical and empirical evidence that European citizens update their perceptions of junior coalition partners' left-right policies to reflect the policies of the prime minister's party, but that citizens do not reciprocally project junior coalition partners' policies onto the prime minister's party. These findings illuminate the simple rules that citizens employ to infer parties' policy positions, broaden understanding of how citizens perceive coalition governance and imply that ‘niche’ parties, whose electoral appeal depends upon maintaining a distinctive policy profile, assume electoral risks when they enter government.