The season of election manifestos is the part of the electoral cycle where the gaps between party rhetoric and reality are most amplified. For parties that are campaigning in their capacity as incumbents seeking re-election the contrasts are more tangible and fresh in the memory of the voters. This makes contradictions easier to identify and challenge. Old-school parties typically have a core identity that forms the basis of their engagement with voters. They may be regarded as pro-poor, socialist or conservative, among other iterations. Yet often there is a divergence between the reputation and ideological identity of the party and its actual formulation. Take the Republican Party in the US, for example. As Grand New Party authors Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam wrote in 2008, even though its reputation is that of “the party of the rich” it “increasingly depended on mostly white working-class support, even as its policy agenda was increasingly unresponsive to working-class voters’ pr...

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