Indifference and alienation: Diverging dimensions of electoral dealignment in Europe
Within the literature, there is an ongoing debate on how to understand the broader implications of the process of electoral dealignment. While some authors argue that dealignment leads to a more ‘open’ electorate that ponders the options offered by the party system, other authors have argued that dealignment leads to a general alienation from the party system. In this article, we investigate the relation between partisanship, indifference towards political parties, and alienation from the party system, on the basis of an analysis of the voter surveys of the European Election Studies project, 1989–2014. The results indicate not only that dealignment is associated with indifference as well as with alienation but also that the relation with alienation is much stronger, both on an aggregate and on an individual level. We conclude, therefore, that dealignment could pose a challenge for the legitimacy of the party system as a whole.