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Changing Party Systems, Socio-Economic Cleavages, and Nationalism in Northern Europe, 1956-2017

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  • Clara Martinez-Toledano

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

  • Alice Sodano

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, WIL - World Inequality Lab)

Abstract

This paper draws on a rich set of electoral surveys to explore the changing relationship between party support and electoral socioeconomic cleavages in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden from the mid-twentieth century until the present. All five countries have experienced a progressive decline in their strong class cleavages, which coincides with the emergence of multi-elite party systems, in line with most Western democracies. While in the 1950s-1960s the lowest-educated and lowest-income voters were more leftwing, since the 1970s-1980s the vote for the left has gradually become associated with the highest-educated voters, who have drifted apart from the more right-wing economic elites. We also investigate how this transformation relates to the success of populism and nationalism over the recent decades among the lowest-educated and lowest-income earners. Despite historical, cultural, and political links, the transition of Nordic countries towards a multi-elite party system has happened at different speeds, offering interesting insights on the specificities of the national trajectories.

Suggested Citation

  • Clara Martinez-Toledano & Alice Sodano, 2021. "Changing Party Systems, Socio-Economic Cleavages, and Nationalism in Northern Europe, 1956-2017," Working Papers halshs-03135013, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-03135013
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03135013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Piketty, 2018. "Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality & the Changing Structure of Political Conflict," Working Papers hal-02878211, HAL.
    2. Thomas Piketty & Fabian Kosse, 2020. "Electoral Cleavages and Socioeconomic Inequality in Germany 1949-2017," Working Papers halshs-03022265, HAL.
    3. Luis Bauluz & Amory Gethin, & Clara Martinez-Toledano & Marc Morgan, 2021. "Historical Political Cleavages and Post-Crisis Transformations in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, 1953-2020," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-03131155, HAL.
    4. Abhijit Banerjee & Amory Gethin & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Growing Cleavages in India? Evidence from the Changing Structure of Party Electorates, 1962-2014," World Inequality Lab Working Papers hal-02877001, HAL.
    5. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, 2001. "Minority Governments and Party Politics: The Political and Institutional Background to the “Danish Miracleâ€," Journal of Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 53-70, January.
    6. Kiander, Jaakko, 2004. "The Evolution of the Finnish Model in the 1990s: from Depression to High-tech Boom," Discussion Papers 344, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, 2001. "Minority governments and party politics: The political and institutional background to the Danish Miracle," MPIfG Discussion Paper 01/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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    1. Di Tommaso, Marco R. & Prodi, Elena & Di Matteo, Dante & Mariotti, Ilaria, 2022. "Local public spending, electoral consensus, and sustainable structural change," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 435-453.

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