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What's in a brand? Party rebranding in Europe

Avina, Matthias (2023) What's in a brand? Party rebranding in Europe. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Political parties are typically seen as conservative institutions which rarely change. Despite this common perception, parties do change, and on occasion, transform themselves by changing features such as the party name and logo, or their policy program. How can we conceptualize these kinds of changes? In this dissertation, I argue that feature changes and policy changes are instances of party rebranding, or situations where a party attempts to overhaul its entire image. I then test three empirical questions relating to party rebranding. First, I investigate why parties rebrand. I find that parties undergo a feature rebrand when there is a decrease in the party’s vote share, or a change in the party leader. A combination of electoral changes and leader changes predicts all types of rebranding. Next, I test the electoral consequences of a party rebrand. The results indicate that feature rebrands increase party vote share for the election after the rebrand, while policy rebrands have no effect. Lastly, I test how partisans respond to a rebrand. Using an original survey experiment analyzing partisans of four political parties in the Netherlands, I find that partisans typically do not respond to a rebrand: partisan attachment does not significantly increase or decrease in the event of a label or policy change. The only exception to this trend is when both the label and policies are changed, where partisans of the far-right and, to a lesser extent, the green party did exhibit decreases in partisan attachment. These results have important implications for our understanding of party brands, the relationship between parties and voters, and for democratic representation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Avina, Matthiasmaa330@pitt.edumaa330
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSpoon, Jae-Jae
Committee MemberBonneau, Christopher
Committee MemberFinkel, Steven
Committee MemberChoi, Donghyun
Committee MemberFernandez-Vazquez, Pablo
Date: 5 September 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 17 May 2023
Approval Date: 5 September 2023
Submission Date: 17 July 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 136
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political parties, party brands, party change
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2023 19:52
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2023 19:52


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