Ideology, Nationalism, and Identity in Basque Regional Elections
Parliamentary elections to the Basque Autonomous Community have a stable multi-party system that regularly produces long-lived minority and coalition governments. More amazing still, this stable party system arises in the context of a complex social and political setting in which the society cleaves along at least two lines -- left-right ideology and nationalism – and in which people have strong identities tied to the Basque language and culture. This paper analyzes voting behavior in parliamentary elections in this region to understand how the left-right ideology, nationalism, and identity sustain this party system. We extend the conventional spatial voting model to incorporate identity issues. Our empirical analysis shows that left-right ideology, nationalism (or regional autonomy) and identity strongly predict vote choice. Interestingly, the analysis suggests that identity politics both polarizes voting and sustains a stable multi-party system.
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