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The Role of Regional Context in Voting: Evidence from the 1992 British General Election


  • Charles Pattie
  • Ron Johnston


PATTIE C. and JOHNSTON R. (1998) The role of regional context in voting: evidence from the 1992 British General Election, Reg. Studies 32, 249-263. Recent British General Election results have produced an increasingly distinct regional geography of the vote, with the Conservatives performing well in the south of the country and Labour doing so in the north. However, accounting for this geography has proved controversial. Some analysts suggest that where voters live has become increasingly important in influencing how they vote. In this model, voters pick up political cues from their local contexts which may lead them to reassess their political allegiances. But this view is not universally accepted; other analysts argue that it is mainly individual factors (including class, background and personal circumstances) which affect voters' decisions. For them, any apparent regional effect is an artefact of the tendency for people from similar backgrounds to live in similar areas. In this paper we reassess the evidence. By analysing data from the 1992 British Election Study (BES), we show that regional context is indeed an important feature of British voting behaviour. Far from being an artefact, it is an important influence on voters' political thinking at a variety of levels, from their political attitudes and ideologies through to their votes. PATTIE C. et JOHNSTON R. (1998) L'importance du comportement regional au moment des elections: des preuves provenant des elections legislatives de 1992 en GrandeBretagne, Reg. Studies 32, 249-263. Les resultats des dernieres elections legislatives en Grande-Bretagne ont manifesteune geographie regionale de plus en plus marquee. Le parti conservateur a eu de meilleurs resultats dans le sud du pays et le parti travailliste dans le nord. Cependant, expliquer cette geographie a suscitedes polemiques. Certains analystes laissent supposer que le lieu de residence a influencede plus en plus les intentions de vote des electeurs. A partir de ce modele, des contextes locaux incitent les electeurs, ce qui pourrait les encourager a reexaminer leur soutien en faveur d'un parti politique quelconque. Mais ce point de vue n'est pas repandu: d'autres analystes sont d'avis que des facteurs particuliers (a savoir, couche sociale, milieu, situation) influencent dans une large mesure les intentions de vote des electeurs. Pour ceux-ci, aucun effet regional evident incarne la tendance des gens issus des milieux similaires a habiter des lieux similaires. Cet article cherche a reexaminer les preuves. En analysant les donnees provenant de la 1992 British Election Study (une etude des elections legislatives de 1992 en Grande-Bretagne), on demontre que le contexte regional constitue une caracteristique importante des intentions de vote des electeurs britanniques. Loin d'etre l'incarnation, il represente une influence importante sur la pensee politique des electeurs a divers niveaux, allant de leurs comportements et ideologies politiques agrave; leurs intentions de vote. PATTIE C. und JOHNSTON R. (1998) Die Rolle des regionalen Zusammenhangs bei der Stimmabgabe: Beweise von den britischen Parlamentswahlen des Jahres 1992, Reg. Studies 32, 249-263. Die Ergebnisse britischer Parlamentswahlen der letzten Jahre haben zunehmend deutlicher werdende geographische Regionen der Stimmabgabe gezeitigt, wobei die Konservativen sich im Suden des Landes erfolgreich hervortaten, und Labour im Norden. Die Erklarung dieses Phanomens ist jedoch umstritten. Manche Analysten sagen, dass der Wohnort eines Wahlers bei der Beeinflussung seiner Stimmabgabe zunehmend an Bedeutung gewinnt. Bei dem vorliegenden Modell schnappen Wahler in ihrem Ortszusammenhang gangige politische Stichworte auf, die sie durchaus zur einem politischen Umschwenken veranlassen konnen. Doch diese Ansicht wird nicht allgemein geteilt: andere Analysten behaupten, dass es vorwiegend individuelle Faktoren sind (einschliesslich Gesellschaftsklasse, Herkunft und personlicher Umstande), welche die Entscheidungen der Wahler bestimmen. Fur sie stellt jede offensichtlich regionale Wirkung ein Artefakt der Tendenz dar, die Leute ahnlicher Herkunft wiederum in ahnlichen Gebieten zusammenfuhrt. In dem vorliegenden Aufsatz werden die Beweise uberpruft. Mit Hilfe der Analyse von Daten der Untersuchung der britischen Wahl des Jahres 1992 wird gezeigt, dass regionaler Zusammenhang tatsachlich ein wichtiger Zug im britischen Stimmabgabeverhalten ist. Weit davon entfernt, ein Artefakt zu sein, erweist er sich als wichtiger Einfluss auf das politische Denken der Wahler auf verschiedenen Ebenen, von politischen Haltungen und Ideologien bis zur Stimmabgabe.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Pattie & Ron Johnston, 1998. "The Role of Regional Context in Voting: Evidence from the 1992 British General Election," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(3), pages 249-263.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:32:y:1998:i:3:p:249-263
    DOI: 10.1080/00343409850119742

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. R J Johnston & C J Pattie, 1992. "Unemployment, the Poll Tax, and the British General Election of 1992," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 10(4), pages 467-483, December.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:03:p:949-959_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jones, K. & Johnston, R. J. & Pattie, C. J., 1992. "People, Places and Regions: Exploring the Use of Multi-Level Modelling in the Analysis of Electoral Data," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(03), pages 343-380, July.
    4. Sanders, David & Ward, Hugh & Marsh, David & Fletcher, Tony, 1987. "Government Popularity and the Falklands War: A Reassessment," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(03), pages 281-313, July.
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