What is left for parties? An overview of Party mandate in France 1981-2009 : An overview of Party mandate in France 1981-2009
GB : Palgrave Macmillan
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The article draws on the author’s recent book to explore the long-standing question of the influence of partisanship on policy implementation. Partisanship is traditionally expected to exert an influence on policy implementation, because on the one hand citizens perceive their vote as an expression of preference towards a certain set of policies, whilst on the other parties conceive policies as tools to differentiate themselves from one another in the electoral market. However, the consistence between parties’ preferences and the policies they enact is often questioned. I argue that party mandate is best understood as the correspondence between partisan and institutional agendas. Drawing on the Comparative Agendas Project data on Party Manifestos, Communiqués du Conseil des Ministres and passed legislation (1981-2009), I show that party preferences matter but their influence on public policy is weak. Moreover, this study confirms that the institutional configuration has an impact on party mandate but exclusively with respect to the executive agenda. Finally, this research shows that French mainstream parties follow electoral business cycles, and party mandate appeared to be stronger in pre-electoral periods. The present research holds important implications for the study of the influence of parties on policy-making, on policy change and more in general for studies dealing with the quality of representative democracy.