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Solidarity frames: the missing link between parties and voters?

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Abstract

Recent studies suggest that solidarity frames are a fruitful instrument to characterise the programmatic supply of political parties and to dimensionalize the political sphere. However, although it makes sense to look at the party supply in terms of different solidarity frames, it is still an open question whether these solidarity frames also make sense to voters and whether the favourite frames of the parties are also popular among their electorates. We concretely test the congruence of the partisan solidarity frames (supply) with the solidarity preferences of their electorates (demand) in the context of Belgium (Flanders) with a fragmented party system challenged by increasing economic and cultural openness. Our analyses suggest that voters distinguish solidarity frames and electorates tend to prefer those solidarity frames that are primarily used by their favourite party.

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Notes

  1. An interesting exception is the study of Pellegata and Visconti (2022) but they specifically focus on transnational solidarity and voting behaviour in European elections.

  2. However, not everyone agrees on this (see Ford and Jennings 2020; Oesch and Rennwald 2018). Moreover, educational groups might have become more important as structural bases of identity-formation (Bornschier et al. 2021; Stubager 2009, 2010).

  3. We understand this block-wise structure of items can potentially drive our factors. However, other surveys present factor indicators in a similar block-wise way in order to deal with missing values. Furthermore, the modification indices of the first model show significant error covariances between Q2_7 (group-based indicator) and Q5_7 (empathic indicator) and between Q3_5 (compassionate indicator) and Q5_5 (empathic indicator). This suggests respondents find some substantive affinities across batteries.

  4. Because the choice to classify voters with a propensity to vote for a party of at least 7 out of 10 is somehow arbitrary we additionally conducted a one-way ANOVA with electorates with a lower (6) or higher (8) propensity to vote as well. Also based on these different cut-offs, we find similar results in rankings and overall associations (see Online Appendix).

  5. The model was estimated using full information maximum likelihood, which is adequate because seven point items can be treated as interval measures (Carifio and Perla 2007).

  6. We are aware the assumption of orthogonality does not do justice to the true correlations between the three factors.

  7. In contrast with correlations found in CFA model, the two-dimensional plots indicate that relationships between the factors are different for party electorates than for voters in general: electorates’ positions on CS; ES and GBS; EBS now seem negatively correlated, while their positions on GBS-ES and GBS; EBS seem positively correlated. However, these results are consistent with previous findings (see Fig. 2): party electorates having high preferences for group-based and exchange-based solidarity tend to have lower preferences for compassionate and empathic solidarity, and vice versa.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Jorg Kustermans, Kees Van Kersbergen, Wim van Oorschot, Job Vossen, the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions, and the M2P-research group for granting us access to their online panel.

Funding

This study was supported by Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds Universiteit Antwerpen (BE) [Grant No. PS ID 33560].

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Correspondence to Pieter Verheyen.

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Verheyen, P., Thijssen, P. Solidarity frames: the missing link between parties and voters?. Acta Polit 58, 918–938 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41269-022-00277-0

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