How economic crises affect political representation: declining party‒voter congruence in times of constrained government

<p>How do economic crises affect political representation in times of constrained government? Our paper shows that among voters salience of economic issues increases during economically harsh times. However, parties respond only to a limited degree to economic shocks, with the result that congruence between parties and voters decreases. We theorise the incentives and disincentives different political parties have in choosing a saliency strategy and we provide evidence on the extent to which congruence depends on the severity of economic shocks and the government/opposition status of the party. We draw on cross-national data to measure issue salience for parties (CMP) and voters (CSES). While our findings clearly indicate a decline of congruence in times of economic crisis, we also find that it remains best for government and office-seeking opposition parties. We substantiate this finding by unpacking the ways in which incumbent and office-seeking opposition parties address the economy in their manifestos.</p>