The inequality roots of weak partisan attachment: Evidence from Denmark

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Abstract

Partisan attachment among the electorate is important for the stability of national party systems. This article argues that the level of inequality during a period of early party formation can have profound impact on political parties’ initial mobilization strategies and thus later levels of partisan attachment and electoral support among the population. An unequal distribution of agricultural land under a limited franchise decreases the incentive of parties representing rural interests to build strong local party organizations and partisan loyalty. Consequently, areas with high land inequality should show less electoral support for these parties after extension of the franchise. This theory is tested using data from early 20th century Denmark. In accordance with the theory, the Liberal Party, which represented rural interests, did poorer electorally in areas with historical high land inequality. The beneficiaries of the Liberal Party's weakness were both centrist and far-left parties as well as the extreme right.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102650
JournalElectoral Studies
Volume85
Number of pages11
ISSN0261-3794
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • Democratization
  • Inequality
  • Partisan attachment
  • Party systems

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