Political Realignment: Economics, Culture, and Electoral Change

ISBN : 9780198830986

Russell J. Dalton
304 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2018
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The process of electoral change is accelerating in contemporary democracies, and this book explains why. The emergence of Green parties in the 1980s and recent far right parties, Brexit and Trump's 2016 victory are parts of this overall process.

Political Realignment tracks the evolution of citizen and elite opinions on economic and cultural issues from the 1970s to the 2010s-and the impact of these changes on electoral politics and public policy. Citizen positions on these cleavages have realigned over time, producing a similar realignment in the structure of the party systems to represent these demands. Economic issues remain important, now joined by divisions on cultural issues as a backlash to modernization. Assembling an unprecedented time series of empirical evidence, this study explains the new forces of elector change in both Europe and the United States.


1 The Evolution of Political Competition
Social Structure and Political Cleavages
2 Citizens, Issues, and Political Cleavages
3 The Social Distribution of Cleavage Positions
4 Cleavage Patterns across Nations
5 Elites, Issues, and Political Cleavages
Political Cleavages and Party Alignments
6 Placing Parties in the Political Space
7 Voters and Parties
8 Congruence and Representation
9 The American Experience
10 Realignment and Beyond
A Issue Questions from the European Election Studies
B Citizen Issue Structures by Nation
C Identifying Party Positions
D Party Cleavage Positions
E Party Cleavage Polarization Scores
F The Complexity of Measurement
G Construction of Economic and Cultural Indices in the United States

About the author: 

Russell Dalton is Research Professor of Political Science at the Centre for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine. Dalton has been awarded a Fulbright Research Fellowship, Scholar-in-Residence at the Barbra Streisand Center, German Marshall Fund Research Fellowship, and the POSCO Fellowship at the East West Center in Hawaii. His research focuses on the role of citizens in the political process. Previous publications include The Participation Gap (OUP, 2017), Political Parties and Democratic Linkage: How Parties Organize Democracy (OUP, 2011), and Citizens, Context and Choice: How Context Shapes Citizens' Electoral Choices (OUP, 2011).

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