Exploiting the cracks: Wedge issues in multiparty competition

Marc van de Wardt, Catherine de Vries, Sara Hobolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the extent to which opposition parties engage in wedge-issue competition. The literature on wedge-issue competition has exclusively focused on the two-party system in the United States, arguing that wedge issues are the domain of opposition parties. This study argues that within multiparty systems opposition status is a necessary but not sufficient condition for wedge-issue competition. Since parties within multiparty systems compete in the wake of past and dawn of future coalition negotiations, parties that are regularly part of a coalition are not likely to exploit wedge issues as it could potentially jeopardize relationships with future coalition partners. Conversely, it is less risky for parties that have never been part of a government coalition to mobilize wedge issues. These theoretical propositions are empirically substantiated by examining the attention given to the European integration issue between 1984 and 2010 within 14 Western European countries, utilizing pooled time-series regressions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-999
Journalthe Journal of Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


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