Do Western European political parties adjust their ideological positions in response to shifts in public opinion and to changing global economic conditions? Based on a time-series, cross-sectional analysis of parties' ideological dynamics in eight Western European democracies from 1976-1998, the authors conclude that both factors influence parties' ideological positions but that this relationship is mediated by the type of party. Specifically, they find that parties of the center and right react to both public opinion and the global economy, whereas parties of the left display no discernible tendency to respond to public opinion and also appear less responsive to global economic conditions. The findings on leftist parties' distinctiveness support arguments about these parties' long-term policy orientations as well as about their organizational structures. The authors also find little support for neoliberal convergence arguments.
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