How National Parties Nationalize Regional Elections: The Case of Spain

Cabeza, Laura; Gómez, Braulio; Alonso, Sonia
January 2017
Publius: The Journal of Federalism;Winter2017, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p77
Academic Journal
This article demonstrates that regional branches of national parties do not limit regional election campaigns to regional issues. On the contrary, they nationalize regional elections (i.e., emphasize national-level issues in regional campaigns) as an electoral strategy to win votes. The empirical evidence comes from the quantitative content analysis of regional-level manifestos of the two main national parties in Spain, PP, and PSOE, between 1998 and 2015. The percentage of references to the national government is taken as an indicator of nationalization. We find that parties nationalize regional elections under two situations: when the national co-partisans are in office enjoying high levels of popularity or when the national co-partisans are in opposition and the nationally governing party is unpopular. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the role of national parties in subordinating the regional arena to the national one in federal and decentralized states.


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