Electoral competition in Europe’s new tripolar political space : class voting for the left, centre-right and radical right
Title: Electoral competition in Europe’s new tripolar political space : class voting for the left, centre-right and radical right
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2017/02
In a growing number of countries, the two dominant political poles of the 20th century, the parties of the Left and the Centre-Right, are challenged by a third pole made up by the Radical Right. Between 2000 and 2015, the Radical Right has obtained more than 12 per cent of the vote in over ten Western European countries and in over twenty national elections. We argue that the three poles compete with each other for the allegiance of different social classes. Our analysis shows the micro-foundations of class voting in nine West European countries where the political space was tripolar for part – or all – of the period between 2000 and 2015. Based on the European Social Survey 2002-2014, we find that socio-cultural professionals still form the party preserve of the Left, and large employers and managers constitute the party preserve of the Centre-Right. However, the Radical Right competes with the Centre-Right for the votes of small business owners, and it challenges the Left over its traditional working-class stronghold. These two contested strongholds attest to the coexistence of old and new patterns of class voting. The analysis of voters’ attitudes shows that old patterns are structured by the economic axis of conflict: production workers’ support for the Left and small business owners’ endorsement of the Centre-Right. In contrast, new patterns are linked to the rise of the Radical Right and structured by the cultural axis of conflict: the support for the Radical Right by production workers and small business owners.
Subject: Class voting; Social classes; Parties; Radical right; Left
Type of Access: openAccess