Declining Cleavages and Political Choices: the Interplay of Social and Political Dactors in the Netherlands
SourceElectoral Studies, 20, 1, (2001), pp. 1-15
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
SubjectInequality, cohesion and modernization; Ongelijkheid, cohesie en modernisering
Many social scientists believe that in the Netherlands there has been a decline in the political impact of traditional class and religious divisions over the last quarter-century. In understanding the evolving political impact of social divisions it is important to recognise that political behaviour results from the interplay between social and political forces. In this paper we test empirically the interplay between the available political options and the social situation of voters. For this purpose we use Dutch election surveys from 1971 to 1998. Comparing changes in the importance of the two traditional divisions, we find a decline in the importance of social class that does not depend on political changes. On the other hand, the decline in religious-based voting seems to be affected by the merging of the three main denominational political parties into the Christian Democrats (CDA) as well as by a linear decline of the party loyalty of Catholics.
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