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II. Context
Contents:


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Although this article does not offer a test of whether group-based appeals condition class voting, the changes at the party level should at least correspond to the changes seen at the voter level. The Danish case challenges the policy-centered theoretical model in other studies precisely because class voting in Denmark has waned without a corresponding change in economic policies of the Social Democratic Party Hobolt Overall, the group-based appeals of the Social Democratic Party should reflect its attempt to expand the electoral base in the light of a changing electoral market.

The transformation of the industrial economy has meant that the working class has become ever smaller during the second half of the 20th century, while the middle class has grown Crouch Thus, the voting potential is declining for the working class and increasing for the middle class. From a party-strategic perspective, this means that the working class has become less attractive for the social democratic parties, and the middle class more so Best : p.

This way, societal change has undermined the usefulness of a traditional strategy based on working class mobilization. At the same time, however, societal change has also opened up some new possibilities. Over time, voters have gained new issue priorities, such as immigration, gender equality, environment and criminal justice Inglehart ; Andersen and Borre We should therefore expect to see a general shift in group-based appeals, where ties to economic groups as such are downplayed, while ties to non-economic groups are highlighted.

As known from the party competition literature, electoral appeals, agenda setting and political attention are relative phenomena e. Budge and Farlie : just as parties cannot focus on all issues at once, they can also not focus on all groups. Emphasizing some will inevitably mean de-emphasizing others.

Even if economic group categories are still relevant targets to the Social Democratic Party, the focus on non-economic groups should imply a relative de-emphasis of economic groups. The same should apply to group categories like wage earners or trade unions, which voters may see as synonyms for workers, as well as other group categories such as the low-income groups and pensioners, which are not directly related to the working class, but were part and parcel of the social democratic voter base.

If such historically associated groups were targeted, voters may be reminded of the working class image of the Social Democratic Party, even if workers were not mentioned. Perceptions of party—class ties are still widespread and the Social Democratic Party has strong incentives to avoid its historical class image becoming salient among voters, as this would undermine its attempt to broaden the voter base.

Given the transformation of the industrial economy, we should expect the Social Democratic Party to try to broaden its appeal beyond traditional class divisions. To study the demobilization of class politics from a group perspective, I concentrate on the Social Democratic Party in Denmark and analyze a new dataset consisting of group-based appeals found in a quantitative content analysis of its party programs in the s, s and s.

There are two types of party programs in Denmark and both are used as sources. The Working Program, on the other hand, lays out specific policy proposals for a shorter period and is usually more comprehensive called Arbejdsprogram in Danish. Even though the working programs do not always follow the election cycle, they are reminiscent of the election manifestos known from other countries such as the UK, the Netherlands or Norway. It is not all parties in Danish party system have a tradition of adopting and publishing party programs, but the Social Democratic Party has made use of both types for more than years.

For the purpose of this article, party programs have a number of advantages. Firstly, they represent the party as a unitary actor, which is an obvious advantage to any study of party-level behavior Helbling and Tresch : p. Secondly, party programs are particularly suitable for over-time analyses, because they have had the same basic format and function throughout the years Green-Pedersen : p. In line with existing research, I am not interested in the party programs as such, but rather in the party strategic behavior that we can measure by analyzing their content Budge et al.

It is thus not the assumption that the average citizen will read the programs although some may , but that the party programs provide a snapshot of which groups the Social Democratic Party targeted in given time periods. Party programs have been chosen in favor of the campaign material that other studies have previously used as sources Budge et al.

Often, this material consists of just flyers and posters, and in some years, the source material for all the parties contains as few as 50 sentences. Party programs do not give as fine-meshed timeline as the election campaign material, but they form a more solid text source. A third advantage is the long history of the party programs, which provides fitting coverage of the period during which the societal changes pointed out in the literature took place. As a consequence, the content analysis in this article covers three principle platform publications in , and , respectively, as well as three working programs in , and As described in the codebook supplementary material in Danish , the coding of party programs took place using group-based appeals as the unit of analysis.

Previous research has used this same methodology to code policy-based appeals Kriesi et al. Based on the codebook and 2 weeks of training, two research assistants read the party programs line-by-line and identified group-based appeals in total. The group-based appeals were coded on a number of variables that, besides the year, had to do with the party, the group and their relation. This leaves this part of the analysis with group-based appeals. The group itself has been coded on two main categories and several subcategories.

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The main categories distinguish whether the group is economic or non-economic. Social class can be understood in many ways, but class is traditionally considered as having to do with economic capital or resources Hout : p. The group is therefore coded as economic if it explicitly refers to: i financial resources e. In all other cases, the group is coded as non-economic. If classified as economic, the group is further coded on a number of subcategories such as wage earners, businesses, pensioners or unemployed.

If the group is classified as non-economic, it is coded on subcategories such as immigrants, women, the ill or the low-educated. The codebook in the supplementary material describes these groups in more detail. Are the Social Democratic Party still appealing to economic groups? Or are other groups now at the heart of its group-based appeals? Therefore, we should also expect the Social Democratic Party to focus on non-economic groups at the expense of the economic ones. I address this, and other, questions about change and stability in group-based appeals by looking at the percentage of all group-based appeals that target specific group categories.

It is clear that are economic groups are targeted less and non-economic more over time. The picture is largely the same if we look to the principle platform, although the major drop here occurred between and Note: The figure shows the percentage of all group-based appeals targeting economic and non-economic group categories, respectively. Dark gray is economic group categories and light gray is non-economic group categories.

Left-hand panel is the working programs and right-hand panel is the principle platform publications. This suggests that the Social Democratic Party adjusted its electoral strategy, as Denmark, like Western Europe in general, underwent societal changes, which meant that voters got other social group affiliations and different issue priorities. What about specific target groups? Considering the decline of the working class and the growth of the middle class, social democratic parties have had strong incentives to downplay their working class image Przeworski and Sprague ; Kitschelt But do we actually see the expected pattern?

Table 1 shows the percentage of group-based appeals targeting each of the economic group categories. To ease presentation, this table collapses the working programs and the principle platforms so that group-based appeals found in the working program and the principle platform are presented together. The same applies to the principle platform and working program, while the working program and principle platform form a third time period. Several results are worth highlighting. First, one may note that, in terms of salience, workers were never really a prominent reference group in the social democratic party programs.

This is a surprising finding considering that Denmark is seen as a typical case on class-dominated politics Green-Pedersen ; Knutsen , and it contrasts with the rhetoric of the Labour Party in Britain, where worker references were about ten times as prevalent around the same time Evans and Tilley ; Thau On the other hand, we see that several other group categories — which were also part of the left-wing base and probably refer to some of the same people as workers — have been prominent target groups for the Social Democratic Party.

Most importantly, however, these traditional target groups all change in a similar way: by the s, they had all become less significant. Tenants and unions — groups that have also traditionally been associated with social democratic parties — also show the same downward trend from the s to the s. Table 1 also shows that a number of middle-class professions seem to play an increasing role for the Social Democratic Party. Although the percentages are small, we see that school teachers, childcare workers and doctors have emerged as target groups over the years.

In and , the Social Democratic Party targeted a larger percentage of its group-based appeals at these three groups than at unions, tenants or pensioners. This suggests, as expected, that the Social Democratic Party has gradually downplayed its ties to the working class and other traditional groups, while at the same time it has broadening out its appeals to cross former class distinctions. This becomes even clearer when looking at the traditional counterpart of the working class, big business.

In fact, businesses were by far the most prominent economic group category in the s, almost three times as salient as wage earners, who were the most salient target group in the s. It is worth considering business more closely by looking at how the tie between the Social Democratic Party and business has changed over time.

In addition to those appeals where the relation between party and group category is positive, I also look at those appeals where the relation is negative or neutral. Table 2 shows the percentage of business appeals that was coded as having a negative, neutral or positive relation between the Social Democratic Party and businesses, over the period studied. It appears that the Social Democratic Party has primarily associated itself with businesses in the s, s as well as the s, at least in its party programs. But it is also clear that the party has become more closely tied to businesses than before.

In the s and s, about half the business appeals were positive, while in the s it was two-thirds. Furthermore, we see a marked decrease in how often the Social Democratic Party dissociates itself from businesses, particularly from the s to the s. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the Social Democratic Party has used its group-based appeals in an attempt to break previous class divisions and expand its voter base. Economic groups as such figure less in the group-based appeals of the Social Democratic Party, while non-economic groups figure more.

Traditional or core groups have become less salient, while middle-class professions such as teachers, childcare workers and doctors have become increasingly salient. Businesses have been steadily targeted, even as economic groups have lost emphasis overall. And when the Social Democratic Party references business in its group-based appeals, it increasingly associates rather than dissociated itself with this group category.


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If non-economic groups now play a more substantial role in the mobilization strategy of the Social Democratic Party, it seems only natural to ask which of the non-economic group categories have gained particularly emphasis. As a final step in the analysis, Table 3 therefore shows the percentage of group-based appeal targeting each of the non-economic group categories in the s, s and s.

I will highlight three points from the results in Table 3.


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  • Although Przeworski has argued that social democratic parties and conservative parties generally differ in that the former focus on specific class groups, while the latter on broader categories, the results presented here indicate that the Social Democratic Party in Denmark has always focused on broad, inclusive voter appeals. Second, we see that the social group categories that comparative political research often focus on as alternatives to class-centric party competition do not play a decisive role in the electoral strategy of the Social Democratic Party e. Lipset and Rokkan ; Brooks et al.

    This dilemma offers a challenge to political parties to think creatively about working families in all their varieties, in order to identify interests and to develop issues and policies that will attract both women and men and, as such, become the ultimate 'catch-all' party. Definitions of the 'gender gap' varies across countries. In North America, the gender gap has referred to a greater number of women than men supporting political parties to the left of centre.

    The coining of such a term resulted from the trends evident in the presidential election, where eight per cent fewer women than men voted for Ronald Reagan. Historically, such a gender difference in a national election was unprecedented. In Britain however, the gender gap refers to any gender differences in voting, rather than implying women are more left of centre than men.

    This may be because no gender gap in the American sense has become apparent in Britain. There are two dimensions to the gender gap or gender differences in voting. The first relates to the gender ratio of each party's support or, in other words, what percentage of conservative voters are women and what percentage are men. The second dimension is the extent to which women as a group split their vote between parties and the extent to which men split their vote. Failure to distinguish these dimensions can lead to a misinterpretation of the gender gap.

    Furthermore, discussion of the gender gap in terms of one particular election result may not take into account the support that flows between parties from one election to another. It necessarily follows that, depending on the shifts of support between parties, the magnitude of the gender gap will also differ. As a result, one party's share of the gender vote may have less to do with gender per se and more to do with the swing either towards or away from particular political parties.

    Thus, the gender gap is more complex than is often presumed to be the case. Indeed, as one American commentator has noted 'the gender gap's dominant characteristic is its elusiveness, materialising in some races but not others, sometimes waxing and sometimes waning'. Yet, whatever the definition of the gender gap, the issue of gender differences in attitudes and voting patterns has acquired a momentum of its own. In terms of analysis, questions are now being asked as to how the gender gap might manifest itself, how it has been used and reacted to by various interests and what has been its impact on policy proposals and outcomes.

    Anne Wren and Kenneth M. McElwain

    In this sense, the perceived relevance of women's votes and how they compare with men's, continues to play an important part in the definition of policy proposals and action. This paper does not seek to provide an overarching or final explanation of the gender gap in Australian politics, but rather examines both dimensions of the gender gap outlined above that is how women compare with men within parties and how women and men compare with their counterparts across parties. The focus is on both men and women and their potential shifts in voting intention and party identification. In this paper the gender gap will refer to gender differences in voting behaviour more generally for example, Coalition male vote minus Coalition female vote.

    At the turn of the century, giving women the right to vote was seen by many anti-suffragists as a threat to the traditional social order. There was a fear that women would desert their traditional roles of caring for home, husbands and children. Many of the arguments used by women in their claim for universal suffrage drew upon notions of the specificity of womanhood and the feminine qualities that came with this difference.

    Furthermore, there was some anticipation in several other countries that when women first got the vote they would then create a unified political force. While women in many countries had organised en masse around issues of suffrage and temperance, the translation of this into female solidarity as voters remained a myth.

    Within Australia, the fear of women voting as a bloc was never a real issue since women did not form the majority of those eligible to vote. For example, in Western Australia in , there were only 20 women of voting age compared to 70 men. Australian studies concerning the gender gap in voting behaviour during these early years of women's participation as citizens are largely non-existent.

    Nevertheless, the view that women were more likely to be conservative voters than men came to predominate both here and overseas.

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    This view was based on smatterings of research conducted overseas, much of which was superficial in its methodological approach. Much of the research undertaken around the s and s did not include gender as a key variable in comparative electoral studies. Australian political scientists, Goot and Reid, note that research questionnaires often only used men, based on an assumption that women would vote the same way as their husbands or fathers.

    The first Australian academic surveys of political behaviour were undertaken in , and Using this data, Aitkin published an analysis of the gender gap in these years. He found that there were gender differences between the parties in terms of what he labelled party loyalty. Overall, in , the ALP had a much larger proportion of strong identifiers than did the Liberal Party. Dividing these party supporters by sex sharpened these differences.

    On the ALP side, four in ten men were strong identifiers while the proportion of women who were strong identifiers was much lower than this figure. In the non-Labor parties however, it was women more than men who were likely to be the strong identifiers. In every sub-group, such as manual workers, union members, churchgoers, income, age, home-owners, husbands and wives and so on, men were more likely than women to identify with the ALP.

    However, there was not much support for the apparent conservatism of women as a result of women living longer than men or that old people tend to be conservative. Aitkin grouped respondents according to national origin, age and sex and in every group, that is, not just the group over 60, women were more conservative than men. The only exception was that of foreign-born women over 60, who were more likely than their male counterparts to identify with the ALP, although the difference was negligible.

    In terms of the data, there was still evidence of a gender gap across parties and categories. Rather, religion and church attendance became much more important for women, while occupation, union membership, and income were important for men. This is in contrast to the situation in , where women were more like men in terms of what determined their partisanship for the ALP.

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    Class variables became less relevant to women over those 12 years. Aitkin views the gender gap apparent over this period of time as related to a 'differential appeal of the parties to the sexes'. Knowing whether the gender gap is a permanent feature of voting behaviour or if it is a fickle phenomenon requires historical analysis which has not been possible because of a lack of data. Research has recently been undertaken using actual votes as a proxy for partisanship to estimate the numbers of men and women supporting the various major parties between and While there is no direct information on the way women and men vote, since the ballot is secret, a method called 'ecological inference' is used where the number of women and men in each sub-division as estimated by the census is cross-tabulated with actual vote.

    Between and it appears that men on average lent slightly more support to the ALP There was one exception to this trend. At the election, three in four men supported the Nationalist Party and a similar percentage of women supported the ALP. This may be a result of opposite male and female preferences about military and religious issues, in particular the conscription referendum of , which were on the agenda at that time. Discounting this extreme departure from the general trends, there has been a tendency for men to support the ALP and women to support the Coalition since However, although there is an average gender gap of 4.

    This section reviews the more recent trends in the voting behaviour of women and men in Australia. It focuses first on the two dimensions of the gender gap mentioned in the introduction: the gender ratio of each party's support and the extent to which women and men as distinct groups split their vote between the two major parties. Second, it desegregates the gender gap by income and age to examine the extent to which women might be seen to be a 'voting bloc'. The following three tables illustrate the gender differential in votes in the House of Representatives for the Coalition, the ALP and the Australian Democrats respectively.

    Looking first at the Coalition, what is apparent is that at almost every survey between and , when asked about voting choice, the percentage of women choosing the Coalition has been higher than the percentage of men supporting the Coalition.

    In terms of consistency over time, the gender gap in voter support for the Coalition is minimal and not notable except in , where a seven percentage point gender gap is evident. This gap does not appear to be solely a result of the Coalition losing the male vote a two percentage point drop , but rather gains were made in the female vote which rose from 43 per cent to 48 per cent. More interestingly perhaps, is the closure of the Coalition's gender gap from seven percentage points in to one point in While the Coalition's support from women increased by four points at the election, there was a 10 per cent point increase in support from men, with the percentage of men voting for the Coalition rising from 41 per cent to 51 per cent.

    Andrew Robb, former Federal Director of the Liberal Party, maintains that despite a swing towards the Coalition across nearly all demographic groups, a significant characteristic of the result was the considerable shift to the Coalition of a segment of the ALP's traditional male base. Turning to the ALP, between and the percentage of women who said they voted ALP dropped from 49 to 40 per cent. In , the percentage of women choosing ALP rose again to 46 per cent, but by had dropped to a low of 34 per cent.

    This is despite the fact that the ALP employed a 'gender gap' strategy in which involved a focus on education, employment, child-care, pensions, families and arguably provided women with 'no choice' except to vote for the ALP. Furthermore, the gap began to widen again at the election, with 52 per cent of men but only 46 per cent of women supporting the ALP.

    This finding represents a significant reversal of the longer term trend whereby gender differences in support for the ALP had been declining over the last 25 years. One paradox of the increased gender differences in support for the ALP in is that in the lead-up to the election Prime Minister Paul Keating hired the former head of the Office of Status of Women, Anne Summers, as an adviser to design policies for women voters. That there was no obvious translation of such efforts into votes for the ALP from women has been attributed to several factors.

    It is argued that the electorate could discern no substantial differences between the women's policies of the parties and that the ALP's failure to honour its commitment to pre-select women in winnable seats may have damaged its credibility. While the ALP's gender gap was reduced to five points in , this was not a result of increasing numbers of women voting ALP. Rather, the ALP's share of the women's vote fell 12 per cent between and , while the male vote dropped 13 per cent from 52 per cent to 39 per cent.

    Overall, at every survey since , when asked about voting choice, the percentage of women choosing the ALP has remained lower than the percentage of men choosing the ALP. Figures for the Australian Democrats, shown in Table 3, indicate that since , women have been more likely to vote for the Democrats than men in the House of Representatives, although the size of this gap has varied over time.

    The exception was in , when there was no difference between men and women. Support by both women and men for the Democrats peaked in , at 14 per cent and 11 per cent respectively, and dropped significantly in Some of this lost ground was made up in In particular, the support from women rose by five per cent to eight per cent.

    Also displayed in Table 3 is the percentage support for the Democrats in the Senate. They are described in the Metadata associated to each variable and in the associated methodological documents. In addition, it should be noted that there are specific countries such as China where there is substantial controversy about price deflators and aggregate real growth. In such cases we review all existing series and attempt to combine them in the most sensible manner.

    This is fully explained in the country-specific papers. There are already many on line economic data portals, why using WID. Over the past decades, the increase in economic inequalities was largely driven by a rise in income and wealth accruing to the top of the distribution. However, household surveys, the data sources traditionally used to observe these dynamics, do not capture these evolution very well. They provide useful information and cover a lot of countries but do not inform adequately on income and wealth levels of the richest individuals. By doing so, it becomes possible to track very precisely the evolution of all income or wealth levels, from the bottom to the top.

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