Structural Determinants of Party Choice: The Changing Impact of Socio-Structure Variables on Party Choice in Comparative Perspective

  • Oddbjørn Knutsen


This chapter addresses the issue to what extent the linkage between voters and political parties is based on stable cleavages. Such cleavages are expressing important and lasting societal divisions (rather than superficial and ephemeral ones), allow parties and voters to establish long-term linkages, and provide incumbents with clear representative and policy-making tasks against which they can be evaluated. The chapter first reviews research on the classic cleavages and subsequently turns to gender differences and new divisions among the large new middle class. The chapter reviews the literature and provides empirical information on European democracies, and argues that the cleavage changes have resulted in strategic reconsideration of important policies and changing location of the parties in the political space.


Cleavages Social structure Party choice Dealignment Realignment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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