Economic Responsiveness and the Political Conditioning of the Electoral Cycle
Understanding the drivers of party issue emphasis and the speci c role of public opinion is important to shed light on the mechanisms of contemporary party competition, and to assess the quality of representation in liberal democracies. Previous research has produced conflicting results between issue ownership and issue dialogue perspectives, and has ignored the role of time in party communication strategy. We present a theory focused on the economy where proximity to Election Day increases the incumbent's cost of not responding to its opponent's attacks, and subsequently decreases its attention to public opinion. We validate the main empirical implications of the model via content analysis of party discourse in Spanish parliamentary speeches (1996-2011) and time series analyses. Our results have pessimistic implications for an ideal conception of bottom-up representation. As electoral accountability pressures increase over the electoral cycle, endogenous party competition overshadows public opinion as a driver of their representatives' agenda.