Irish Political Studies, 28(1) pp 1-19
This paper focuses on the principal parties’ manifestos in UK statewide elections 1970–2010. It makes an original contribution by using a mixed methodology to examine the electoral discourse, issue-salience and policy framing associated with civil conflict resolution (CCR) proposals for Northern Ireland. Mandate and accountability theory suggest that party programmes may play an important role in understanding CCR. Accordingly, a series of hypotheses is tested and the findings used to advance an Electoral Discourse Model of Civil Conflict Resolution. The findings show that electoral politics matter in shaping CCR. Statistically significant inter-party differences in issue-salience and policy framing are revealed as parties seek to secure ‘issue-ownership’, influence voter preferences and secure a mandate for action. An iterative inter-party process is shown to lead to frame convergence over time, thereby providing an indicator of progress towards conflict resolution.