Political parties and social groups: new perspectives and data on group and policy appeals

This article contributes to the literature on party appeals to social groups by introducing a new dataset on group and policy appeals in Scandinavia (2009–2015). In addition to coding to what social groups parties appeal, we collected information on what policies parties offer for the groups they mention and what goals and instruments they specify for such policies. The latter advance makes it possible to present new insights on the extent to which group appeals are actually substantial and meaningful. We find that left, centre, and right parties appeal to broad demographic categories rather than class. There are almost no appeals to the middle class, although the frequent reference to a category ‘all’ can be interpreted as a functional equivalent for middle class appeals. Finally, parties clearly still make substantial policy proposals and address concrete policy problems, but with only small differences in such appeals across the left-right spectrum.