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The European Union and Beyond

Ideological Polarisation of Spanish Elites: Are Younger Politicians More Radical?

Political Parties
Political Ideology
Southern Europe
Leonardo Sánchez-Ferrer
Universidad de Burgos
Leonardo Sánchez-Ferrer
Universidad de Burgos
Pablo Dominguez Benavente
Universidad Pablo de Olavide

A number of studies show evidence of increasing ideological polarization of Spanish politics, particularly at the elite level. A plausible explanation lies in the arrival of new generations of young politicians who are far more radical than their elders. Consensus was important for the generations of politicians who participated or at least witnessed the process of transition to democracy in the 1970s, as they believed that it was necessary for the creation of new stable democratic institutions after a long period of dictatorship and there was also agreement in the idea that it was crucial to avoid the polarisation process that had lead to the Civil War back in the 1930s. However, it could be the case that younger generations of Spanish politicians are not constrained by these considerations and they express more radical ideological positions than the old ones and they even reject the very idea of consensus.
Using data from two surveys to Spanish MPs, conducted by the Democracy and Autonomy Group in 2009-2010 and 2018 (the second survey is the Spanish case of the Comparative Candidate Survey), polarisation of parliamentary elites is analysed and compared with that of ordinary citizens.
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