Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 July 2011
No consensus exists on the causal mechanisms underpinning declining voting based on social cleavages – religion and class – in Europe. Previous research has emphasized two main factors: social change within the electorate (bottom-up) and parties’ policy polarization (top-down). This article presents a third level of analysis that links parties and cleavage-related social organizations, producing a factor capable of reinforcing group identity and interest representation. This hypothesis was tested for Italy in 1968–2008, where changes in the party system provided a natural experiment to assess the impact of changing structural alternatives at the party–organizational level. The level of cleavage voting in Italy then responded primarily to changes in the structure of party–organization linkages, while the impact of policy mobilization and social change was negligible.
1 See, respectively, Dalton, Russell J., ‘Cognitive Mobilization and Partisan Dealignment in Advanced Industrial Democracies’, Journal of Politics, 46 (1984), 264–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Kirchheimer, Otto, ‘The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems’, in Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner, eds, Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp. 177–200Google Scholar; Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter, ‘Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party’, Party Politics, 1 (1995), 5–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
2 Lipset, Seymour M. and Rokkan, Stein, ‘Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction’, in Seymour M. Lipset and Stein Rokkan, eds, Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross- National Perspectives (New York: Free Press, 1967), pp. 1–64Google Scholar.
3 Bartolini, Stefano and Mair, Peter, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability: The Stabilisation of European Electorates 1885–1985 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)Google Scholar.
4 Bartolini, Stefano, The Political Mobilization of the European Left, 1860–1980. The Class Cleavage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)Google Scholar.
5 See Evans, Geoffrey, ed., The End of Class Politics? Class Voting in Comparative Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See also Elff, Martin, ‘Social Structure and Electoral Behavior in Comparative Perspective: The Decline of Social Cleavages in Western Europe Revisited’, Perspectives on Politics, 2 (2007), 277–294Google Scholar.
6 Dalton, ‘Cognitive Mobilization and Partisan Dealignment’; Dalton, Russell J., Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies (London, Chatham House Publishers, 2002)Google Scholar.
7 See, for example, Franklin, Mark N., ‘The Decline of Cleavage Politics’, in Mark N. Franklin, Tom Mackie and Henry Valen, eds, Electoral Change: Responses to Evolving Social and Attitudinal Structures in Western Countries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 383–405Google Scholar; Franklin, Mark N., The Decline of Class Voting in Britain: Changes in the Basis of Electoral Choice, 1964–1983 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985)Google Scholar.
8 Brougthon, David and ten Napel, Hans-Martien, eds, Religion and Mass Electoral Behaviour in Europe (London: Routledge, 2000)Google Scholar.
11 van der Eijk, Cees, Franklin, Mark, Mackie, Tom and Valen, Henry, ‘Cleavages, Conflict Resolution and Democracy’, in Mark Franklin, Tom Mackie and Henry Valen, eds, Electoral Change: Responses to Evolving Social and Attitudinal Structures in Western Countries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp. 406–431Google Scholar.
13 Lipset, Seymour M., Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Barton, Allen H. and Linz, Juan J., J, ‘The Psychology of Voting: An Analysis of Political Behaviour’, in Gardner Lindzey, ed., Handbook of Social Psychology (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1954), pp. 1124–1175Google Scholar; Lipset, Seymour M., Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (Baltimore, Md.: The John Hopkins University Press, 1981)Google Scholar; Hibbs, Douglas A. Jr, ‘Political Parties and Macroeconomic Policy’, American Political Science Review, 71 (1971), 1467–1487CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
16 Evans, Geoffrey, Heath, Anthony and Payne, Clive, ‘Class: Labour as a Catch-all Party?’ in Geoffrey Evans and Pippa Norris, eds, Critical Elections: British Parties and Voters in Long-Term Perspective (London: Sage, 1999), pp. 87–101Google Scholar.
17 Bellucci, Paolo, ‘Un declino precocemente annunciato? Il voto di classe in Italia, 1968–1996’, Polis, 2 (2001), 203–225Google Scholar; Bellucci, Paolo, ‘From Class Voting to Economic Voting. Patterns of Individualization of Electoral Behaviour in Italy, 1972–1996’, in Hans Dorussen and Mark Taylor, eds, Economic Voting (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 261–283Google Scholar.
18 Oskarson, ‘Social Structure and Party Choice’. Thomassen, ed., The European Voter, contains data on the United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
19 See Evans, The End of Class Politics?
20 See Bartolini, The Political Mobilization of the European Left. Indeed, working-class support for the left may be regarded as an historical consequence of union penetration in leftist parties, thus creating a link between group identity and political support. See, for example, Mair, Peter, Party System Change: Approaches and Interpretations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
22 Political linkage can be understood in a number of different ways. The seminal contribution on political parties and linkage by Lawson distinguishes between (a) participatory linkage, where parties serve as agencies through which citizens participate in politics; (b) policy-responsive linkage, which ensure responsiveness by governments to people; (c) linkage by reward, as channels for exchange of votes for favours; (d) directive linkage, where parties (in non-democratic regimes) are agencies of manipulation and control rather than promoting participation. See Lawson, Kay, ‘Political Parties and Linkage’, in Kay Lawson, ed., Political Parties and Linkage: A Comparative Perspective (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1980), pp. 3–24Google Scholar. Our attention here is on the Rokkanian party–organization linkage, a notion that bridges the first two types discussed by Lawson. On how political linkages have changed overtime, see Rommele, Andrea, Ignazi, Piero and Farrell, David, eds, Political Parties and Political System: The Concept of Linkage Revisited (Westport: Praeger, 2005)Google Scholar. Of course, parties are not the only actors which provide linkages between citizens, representative institutions and rulers, as the political role of collateral organizations and social movement show. See Poguntke, Thomas, ‘Political Parties and Other Organizations’, in Richard S. Katz and William Crotty, eds, Handbook of Party Politics (London: Sage Publications, 2006), pp. 397–405Google Scholar.
23 Neumann, Sigmund, ‘Towards a Comparative Study of Political Parties’, in Sigmund Neumann, ed., Modern Political Parties: Approaches to Comparative Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956)Google Scholar. Duverger, Maurice, Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State (London: Methuen, 1964)Google Scholar.
24 Rokkan, Stein, ‘Electoral Mobilization, Party Competition, and National Integration’, in Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner, eds, Political Parties and Political Development (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp. 261–283Google Scholar.
25 On the catch-all party, see Kirchheimer, Otto, ‘The Transformation of the Western European Party Systems’, in LaPalombara and Weiner, eds, Political Parties and Political Development, pp. 177–200Google Scholar. On the rational-efficient party, see Wright, William, A Comparative Study of Party Organization (Columbus, Oh.: Charles Merrill, 1971)Google Scholar. On the electoral-professional party, see Panebianco, Angelo, Political Parties: Organization and Power (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)Google Scholar. On the cartel party, see Katz, Richard and Mair, Peter, ‘Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party’, Party Politics, 1 (1995), 5–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar. On the crisis of the mass party and party failure, see Lawson, Kay and Merkl, Peter, eds, When Parties Fail: Emerging Alternative Organizations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
26 For example, see Bartolini and Mair, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability; Nieuwbeerta and Ultee, ‘Class Voting in Western Industrialized Countries’.
28 Snidermann, Paul and Bullock, John, ‘A Consistency Theory of Public Opinion and Political Choice: The Hypothesis of Menu Dependence’, in Willem E. Saris and Paul Snidermann, eds, Studies in Public Opinion: Attitudes, Nonattitudes, Measurement Error and Change (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004). pp. 337–375Google Scholar.
29 On the development of the religious and class cleavages in Italy and on their impact on voting up to the 1960s, see Galli, Giorgio and Prandi, Alfonso, Patterns of Political Participation in Italy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970)Google Scholar.
30 See Mackie, Tom, Mannheimer, Renato and Sani, Giacomo, ‘Italy’, in Mark N. Franklin, Tom Mackie and Henry Valen, eds, Electoral Change: Responses to Evolving Social and Attitudinal Structures in Western Countries (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)Google Scholar.
31 Cotta, Maurizio and Verzichelli, Luca, Political Institutions in Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)Google Scholar.
32 Most studies over time have held constant the political factors, since party system change of this type is relatively rare in mature democracies, and examined change in society.
33 The surveys used are Istituto per le Ricerche Statistiche e l'Analisi dell'Opinione Pubblica – Doxa, 1963 survey; Mass Election Study, 1968 and 1972; Political Action Study 1975; Eurobarometer, 11 (1979); Four Nation Study, 1985; Italian National Election Study (ITANES), 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2008. For each survey N varies between a low of 705 (in 1992) and a high of 2,400 (in 1968). Average sample size per survey is 2,300.
34 Budge, Ian, Klingemann, Hans-Dieter, Volkens, Andrea, Bara, Judith and Tanenbaum, Eric, Mapping Political Preferences: Estimates for Parties, Electors, and Governments 1945–1998 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)Google Scholar.
35 We wish to thank Nicolò Conti (CIRCaP-Università di Siena), the author of the content analysis of the 2006 and 2008 coalitions’ manifestos, who generously shared with us his own research.
36 This study was originally directed by Giovanni Sartori, and later by Maurizio Cotta and Luca Verzichelli at CIRCaP-Università di Siena. Samples of representatives from each legislature have been surveyed to collect data on the political careers and political attitudes of MPs over time. We thank CIRCaP for making available this unique data source. The usual disclaimer for responsibility of analysis and interpretation applies.
37 Bartolini and Mair, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability. See Note to Appendix Table A for explanation of abbreviations of party names.
38 The exact question wordings for the vote have changed somewhat over time. When a vote question was not available (1963, 1975), we relied on party closeness. Although the marginal distribution of these variables is somewhat different, the association between class and religion is not.
39 There are a number of ways in which class can be measured; see Erikson, Robert and Goldthorpe, John, The Constant Flux: A Study of Class Mobility in Industrial Societies (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992)Google Scholar. However, earlier research suggests that in Italy the most salient distinction is between manual and non-manual occupations. See Bellucci, ‘Un declino precocemente annunciato?’
41 Right Emphasis: Sum of sentences belonging to the following categories: 401 Free Enterprise; 402 Incentives; 407 Protectionsim; 414 Economic orthodoxy. Left Emphasis: Sum of sentences belonging to the following categories: 403 Market Regulation; 404 Economic Planning; 406 Protectionsim; 412 Controlled Economy; 413 Nationalization.
42 Bartolini and Mair, Identity, Competition and Electoral Availability.
43 See, for example, Lipset et al., ‘The Psychology of Voting’; Hibbs, Douglas A. Jr, The Political Economy of Industrial Democracies (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Oskarson, ‘Social Structure and Party Choice’. For a full description of the variables used in the analysis see Budge et al., Mapping Political Preferences.
44 See Evans et al., ‘Class: Labour as a Catch-all Party?’ We also computed bloc position by applying a fixed weight based on parties average vote share across each republic. The two measures correlate highly (Pearson R = 0.92).
45 Since there are only two indicators available to measure religious–secular issues we must treat the results with a certain degree of caution since it is possible that we have not been able to measure the full range of the concept.
47 For 1979 we lack data on church attendance, and so impute the missing data from an item on the importance of religion. However, the results from this are not substantially different to what they would have been if we had used data on church attendance from earlier (1978) or later (1980) years.
48 The party bloc positions on the Secular–Religious Index range between +/− 4 mentions, while those on the Left–Right Index range between −10/+20 mentions.
49 For the political salience of this divide, see Isernia, Pierangelo, ‘Bandiera e risorse. La politica estera negli anni ottanta’, in Maurizio Cotta and Pierangelo Isernia, eds, Il gigante dai piedi d'argilla (Bologna: il Mulino, 1996), pp. 139–188Google Scholar.
50 Pelizzo raises doubts about the Party Manifesto Data's ability to correctly identify parties’ positions in the political space, particularly in the Italian case. See Pelizzo, Riccardo, ‘Party Position or Party Direction? An Analysis of Party Manifesto Data’, Western European Politics, 2 (2003), 67–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Pelizzo, Riccardo, ‘Party Direction: The Italian Case in Comparative Perspective’, Party Politics, 1 (2010), 51–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Pelizzo argues that, rather than indicating position, manifestos indicate movement, and that parties use manifestos to adjust their policy position in order to attract voters. We agree with this interpretation, and are thus more interested in whether the party blocs move towards each other or away from each other, rather than where they stand per se.
51 Positive values indicate that there are higher levels of organizational mobilization in the centre, negative values indicate higher levels of mobilization on the left.
52 See Verzichelli, Luca , ‘Da un ceto parlamentare all'altro. Il mutamento del personale legislativo italiano’, in Roberto D'Alimonte and Stefani Bartolini, eds, Maggioritario finalmente? La transizione elettorale 1994–2001 (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2002), pp. 319–361Google Scholar.
53 The logits that are presented in Figs. 8–10 are, for each election, the log odds of voting centre-right (rather than centre-left) for, respectively, the Secular Middle Class, Catholic Working Class and Catholic Middle Class in relation to the Secular Working Class (reference category).
55 We do not include the parent term for the IND since we have no theoretical expectation about the effect of organizational linkages on party vote share, only about the effect on cleavage voting.
56 The Kappa index is a summary measure of the variation in cleavage voting between groups. It is based on the standard deviation of the log odds. See Hout, Michael, Brooks, Clem and Manza, Jeff, ‘The Democratic Class Struggle in U.S. Presidential Elections: 1948–1992’, American Sociological Review, 60 (1995), 805–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar. To save space we do not report the findings in a table, but calculations are available upon request from the authors.
57 See Parisi, Arturo and Pasquino, Gianfranco, ‘Relazioni partiti-elettori a tipi di voto’, in Arturo Parisi and Gianfranco Pasquino, eds, Continuità e mutamento elettorale in Italia (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1977), pp. 215–249Google Scholar; Mannheimer, Renato and Sani, Giacomo, Il mercato elettorale. Identikit dell'elettore italiano (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1987)Google Scholar.
58 See Bellucci, Paolo, Maraffi, Marco and Segatti, Paolo, ‘Intermediation through Secondary Associations: The Organizational Context of Electoral Behaviour’, in Richard Gunther, José Montero and Hans-Jürgen Puhle, eds, Democracy, Intermediation and Voting on Four Continents (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp.135–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.