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The Political Attitudes and Electoral Preferences of Secure and Insecure Workers: Examining the Social Bases of Party Competition, and of Radical-Left and Radical-Right Parties

Cleavages
Comparative Politics
European Politics
Political Parties
Voting
Political Sociology
Electoral Behaviour
Voting Behaviour
P407
Luis Ramiro
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia – UNED, Madrid
Raul Gomez
University of Liverpool
Laura Morales
Sciences Po Paris

Abstract

Extant research has identified three concomitant political changes taking places since the 1970s that have transformed West European party politics: a weakening of the traditional class vote, a growing electoral dealignment, and an increase of electoral volatility. Many scholars have identified a number of relevant and specific social and economic changes at the root of these transformations in the electoral politics of Western societies. In particular, some have stressed the role played by the de-industrialization process and the decline of the old industrial era’s class structure, the expansion of service sector jobs, and the associated alterations these changes have triggered in the labour market. All these are phenomena that surely have important implications for the parties’ social-electoral coalitions. But among these transformations there is specially one that has habitually been identified as having major effects: the dualization of the labour market and the subsequent expansion of the group of insecure workers. However, the more recent analyses of the configuration of the political conflict in Western societies and of parties’ social bases point towards a potential phenomenon of realignment rather than dealignment, a situation in which social-structural factors such as class are not really losing their influence on political beliefs and behaviours but shifting their impact. In this vein, the globalization process has surely changed the political conflict adding a new cultural dimension to the traditional economic or distributive divide, and has generated a proper, or at least more consequential, two-dimensional political space in Western societies. This situation has certainly stimulated two related electoral changes: the often observed loss of working class support by left parties, and the relatively new support for radical right parties from significant sections of the working class. But these changes do not indicate a weakening of the relevance of variables such as class – or more precisely occupation, working situation or labour market position – on political attitudes and party choice, but a different effect than the traditional impact they had. Class, occupation, working situation, labour market position might still have a significant influence, though a changing one, on key political variables. It is in this wide area of research on the changing social bases of parties’ support where this panel positions itself. The literature on all these developments is already vast and rapidly growing. But there are some specific aspects that require further and deeper analysis. One of them is the political and electoral impact of individuals’ working situations and positions in the labour market. In this regard, this panel has three main aims. The first one is to analyse the interaction between the individuals’ political attitudes and their working situations and positions in the labour market on political choices. The second one is to analyse the impact of individuals’ labour market positions and political attitudes on their party preference. The third one is disentangling in which way these social factors contribute to the explanation of the support for radical parties of the left and of the right.

Title Details
Shades of Red: Party Competition for Progressive Voters Between the Radical and the Moderate Left View Paper Details
The Political Effects of Job Insecurity: Party Choice in Four European Countries View Paper Details
Voting for the Radicals: Choosing Between the Radical Left and the Radical Right Among Lower Middle Class and Working Class Voters View Paper Details
When The Glove Fits – Voter’s Response to Strategic Positioning of Radical Left Parties on Nationalism View Paper Details
Cultural Divide and Distributive Conflict: Political Attitudes and Vote Choice Among Working Class Voters View Paper Details