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Social democracy’s mobilization of new constituencies: the role of electoral systems

Arndt, C. (2014) Social democracy’s mobilization of new constituencies: the role of electoral systems. Party Politics, 20 (5). pp. 778-790. ISSN 1460-3683

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/1354068812453372


Social democratic parties have changed their electoral appeals substantially to cater to new voter segments. This article examines social democracy’s fortunes in attracting new voters among the salaried middle class across different electoral systems. Previous research ignored the importance of electoral systems and was inconclusive as to whether social democratic parties succeeded in mobilizing new constituencies. I argue that electoral systems play a crucial role since proportional systems enhance the electoral competiveness of left-libertarian parties, social democracy’s most serious challengers among the salaried middle class. In contrast, majoritarian systems allow social democratic parties to gain a foothold among these voters as left-libertarians remain marginalized. Using ISSP data for 11 Western democracies, the findings demonstrate that social democratic parties were outperformed by their left-libertarian challengers among the salaried middle class under highly proportional systems, but not under majoritarian systems.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:73124

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