Words as weapons: opposition rhetoric and partisan strategy

Open Access
Tzelgov, Eitan
Graduate Program:
Political Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 28, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Burt Monroe Iii, Dissertation Advisor
  • Christopher Jon Zorn, Committee Member
  • Sona Nadenichek Golder, Committee Member
  • James Dillard, Special Member
  • parties
  • rhetoric
  • legislative
  • opposition
This project uses speeches in parliamentary democracies as quantitative data, in order to analyze the ways in which opposition parties use legislative rhetoric. I analyze original speech data from three democratic parliamentary legislatures: The British, the Greek and the Israeli. The core nding is that opposition parties use legislative speech strategically, i.e., they choose to address issues that might destabilize the current equilibrium, and thus increase the salience of issues that have high potential of majority splitting. The results also indicate that the use of wedge issues is conditional on intra-party politics and the complexity of new issues. Finally, I nd that opposition rhetorical practices are prevalent among coalition members in unpopular governments. The results have implications to our understanding of legislative politics in parliamentary democracies, especially with regard to structure and dynamics of political issues, strategies of parliamentary opposition, and the dimensionality of legislative debate.