As regards party identification in Britain, to our best knowledge only the analyses by Clarke and his colleagues Clarke et al. While we agree with Clarke et al. More importantly, we argue that their model should be extended to include political interest as a key factor that can explain stability of partisan ties.
Although both strands of the literature should obviously complement each other, they are by and large disjoint. Our own model aims to narrow this gap. In the remainder of this paper, we first review very briefly the existing evidence on the status of party identification in Britain. Then, we present findings from a model that differs from the specification chosen by Clarke et al. These two innocuous modifications lead us to substantively different conclusions that are much more in line with the classic model of party identification.
Finally, we discuss how our findings relate to the broader discussion on the nature and stability of party identification. While building on the American concept, the authors found considerable Anglo-American differences. Though highly stable in absolute terms, partisan self-images in Britain turned out to be much more likely than their American counterparts to travel in tandem with vote choice over time.
Given these findings, some scholars discarded the concept arguing that in Britain party identification is not as independent from voting behaviour as implied by the Michigan school. Others related the Anglo-American differences to features of the political institutions or even to measurement problems and concluded that the concept could be applied to Britain in principle LeDuc, ; Mughan, ; but also see Crewe et al.
Following the latter account, many scholars used the concept of party identification to analyse public opinion and voting behaviour in Britain. Subsequent analyses, however, yielded more and more evidence that seemed at odds with the traditional concept.
Beginning in the s, Britain underwent a period of partisan dealignment, i. Expanding on this line of research, Clarke and colleagues e. Summarising these findings, Clarke et al. But this conclusion has not gone uncontested. Several scholars claimed that the apparent instability of party identification in Britain is the result of an inappropriate survey instrument.
Since the traditional indicator prompts respondents with a list of party labels and does not offer them an explicit non-identity option, respondents who lack the sense of durable attachment that is implied by the concept will in all likelihood answer the question on the basis of their present but not necessarily stable party preference. This will result in an inflated figure for the percentage of partisans in Britain as well as in a deflated estimate of partisan stability. When it comes to the stability issue, however, the findings are somewhat mixed.
At the same time, the revised indicator leads to considerably lower rates of inter-party change than the traditional instrument Clarke et al. Using a simple dummy indicator specification for party identification, Green et al. What is more, they demonstrate that short-term forces do not seem to affect party identification in Britain if random error is accounted for.
Accordingly, Green et al. Clarke and his colleagues e. Their analyses of panel data collected between and reveals considerable change in party identification at the latent-variable level even when allowing for measurement error. Testing four different specifications, they find that a Mixed Markov Latent class model with time homogeneous measurement error rates fits the data for Britain and also Canada and the USA best.
In such a model, the measurement of partisanship is assumed to be affected by random error that is homogeneous constant over time. Therefore, they suggest discarding the original Michigan concept in favour of the running tally model Clarke et al. Perfect stability, however, is not implied by the Michigan model. However, the debate on the relative merits of both models has become somewhat stale. In this article, we suggest adding political interest as an explanatory variable into Clarke et al.
This seemingly innocuous modification leads to an important new insight that helps us to discriminate more clearly between the traditional interpretation of partisanship and the revisionist one. In addition, it has some bearing on a related conflict within the traditionalist camp.
The rationale is simple: Moreover, since party identification is merely a function of prior information, interest in politics will raise levels of exposure to political information and should hence be associated with higher levels of partisanship. From the point of view of the traditionalists, expectations regarding the role of political interest are less clear-cut.
Cognitive mobilisation will therefore undermine partisan ties and contribute to dealignmant e. Moreover, it follows that political interest should have a negative effect on the likelihood of identifying with a political party. On the other hand, Campbell et al. This view is in line with modern theories of motivated reasoning, which suggest that voters with high levels of interest in politics and high levels of political knowledge already stored in their long-term memory are more likely to select information that bolsters their preferences and to counter-argue information that runs contrary to their existing preferences confirmation and disconfirmation bias.
In effect, additional information is likely to support, rather than undermine, existing preferences. Among low-interest voters, this effect is smaller e. Political interest should therefore be associated with higher levels of partisanship e. Albright , as well as with a higher probability of being in the stayer class. To summarise, the three different theoretical perspectives lead to diverging expectations regarding the effect of political interest: It is not our aim to fully replicate the various analyses by Clarke and his colleagues or to refute their findings.
Rather, we want to demonstrate how adding a single variable to their model can shed some new light on the heterogeneity of partisanship stability in Britain and beyond. We therefore focus on data that were collected for the British Election Panel Survey from to There are three reasons for re-analysing these data that were collected more than a decade ago. First, this was the last face-to-face panel study of the BES, which began to employ internet access panels from on.
While these are cost-efficient and can offer comparable data quality, the bulk of the data analysed comes from traditional surveys, and we would rather avoid mode effects. However, an additional analysis of the internet panel documented in the online appendix leads to essentially identical findings. Hence, it will not be contaminated by any campaign effects that may prompt voters to revert to their initial identification e.
Finkel , while still giving us the benefits of analysing four measurements that span almost the complete life of a parliament. This is confirmed by our own analyses of the BES panel data: While 80 per cent of the respondents reported the same identification in the last wave in as they did when they were first interviewed in compared to 74 per cent in the and 84 per cent in the periods , the year-to-year changes documented in the online appendix are higher than most of those that have been previously observed. To summarise, re-analysing the data stacks the odds against finding stable identifications of traditionalist lore and is therefore a sensible modeling choice.
The volatility of the period does not come as a surprise. Therefore, the early Blair years should provide a litmus test for the hypothesis of largely immutable identifications: Unlike Clarke et al. Moreover, the stability of mainstream party identifications might be lower in the periphery because respondents may well hold diverging party preferences and loyalties at the national and the sub-national level see for evidence on the US and Canada Niemi et al.
The second important difference between the analysis by Clarke et al. Apart from considering political interest, our model is identical to the Mixed Markov model championed by Clarke et al.: We distinguish between Labour identifiers, Conservative identifiers, and all others. As outlined in the previous section, we set up the model separately for a England and b the devolved nations. To establish a baseline, we first estimate the model without considering political interest and its correlations with the latent classes.
In line with our expectations, restricting the sample to English respondents results in a higher estimate for the proportion of stayers 75 per cent vs. Like Clarke et al. This finding alone is a powerful re-assertion of the idea of largely stable party alignments. In , 40 per cent of the respondents were Labour identifiers, and 32 per cent identified with the Conservatives.
Amongst the initial Labour identifiers, only one quarter are movers. While this difference is small and within the margin of error, the discrepancy underlines that it is worthwhile to disaggregate the data. Across all respondents, retention rates are slightly lower than in England and vary between 87 per cent Labour from to , the year of the first elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly to 97 per cent the Conservatives to Next, we introduce political interest as an additional variable.
Interest was measured in every wave using a five-point scale. While we could have constructed another latent variable from these four measurements see, e. Instead of trying to purge random measurement error from this variable, we simply use the single measurement from the first wave as a rough indicator for general political interest. This is actually a conservative modelling strategy: Any random noise in the measurement which could be due to higher levels of interest during the campaign will dilute the relationship between political interest on the one hand and partisanship and its stability on the other.
Table 2 about here —. Including political interest in the model involves estimating three additional parameters — one for membership in the mover group, and two for initially identifying with Labour or the Conservatives, respectively. Table 3 about here —. However, higher levels of political interest seem to reduce the probability of being a mover. The effects are sizable at about Regarding the effect of political interest on partisanship, the results are less equivocal.
Political interest has a statistically significant and substantial positive effects on both identification with the Labour and the Conservative party see Table 3. They are equivalent to changes in the odds ranging from 19 to 43 per cent. Table 4 about here —. In England, stayers are considerably more likely to identify with one of the two major parties see Table 4 than movers.
In Scotland and Wales, however, stayers predominantly identify with none or one of the nationalist parties, whereas more than two thirds of the movers identified with Labour in but may have changed their allegiance further down the line. Table 5 about here —. Taken together, the results imply that overall retention rates are high in some, but not in all circumstances as Table 5 reveals. In many ways, the discussion between proponents of the Michigan model that has been updated and revised many times since its first inception in the s and their revisionist critics could be described as a dialogue of the deaf.
This is in part because both models will lead to very similar empirical findings under most circumstances. In this contribution, we have tried to bring some fresh air to this otherwise stale debate by taking a closer look at the role of interest in politics in affecting the prevalence and stability of party attachments. Relying on this perspective, we derived three models with clearly distinguishable predictions: The evidence gleaned from the BES panel survey suggests that in Britain the traditional model is better suited to describe the role of interest in politics in affecting the prevalence and stability of party attachments than its contenders.
Our findings thus support the classic notion of party identification Campbell et al. In particular, they suggest that the affective nature of party identification is conducive to motivated reasoning and thereby lends considerable stability to party attachments. In line with recent findings in political psychology e. In accordance with the latter model, our findings also have implications for the dynamics of party identification at the aggregate level, the so-called macro-partisanship e.
They suggest that the dynamics in the aggregate-level distribution are primarily driven by voters who are not heavily interested in politics. To be sure, this finding on voter heterogeneity does not imply that these dynamics are indicative of some kind of irrationality see on this debate, e. However, it contradicts the notion that it is highly involved voters who cause shifts in macro-partisanship, a notion that would appear to be desirable from a democratic accountability perspective.
Thus our findings can be seen as supportive of the well-known paradox whereby individuals with less than ideal citizenship traits actually seem to make important contributions to the functioning of democratic political systems Berelson et al. As is the case for most empirical studies of political behaviour, this paper is subject to several limitations. The period is probably atypical in that citizens were provided with much information that could make them switch party allegiances. While this characteristic made a good test case for the hypotheses it also limits the generalizability of our findings, although our additional analysis of the data leads to essentially identical results.
Also, we did not take into account the durability of changes in party attachments. With data from multi-wave panel surveys covering longer time periods, future research may also be able to distinguish short-term fluctuations from more permanent changes in party attachments and hence explore whether political interest affects the durability of shifts in party attachments.
Moreover, we have to keep in mind that we simplified our model by treating political interest not as latent variable. Yet, this strategy is likely to have diluted the impact of political interest on the stability of party attachments. Utilizing more sophisticated techniques would probably yield evidence that supports our conclusions even more strongly. So, we are confident that our evidence lends considerable support to the classic notion of party identification in Great Britain. American Political Science Review, 70 2 , pp.
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For the last twenty-five years or so, party identification has been said to be in decline in Germany. And yet, those two parties which are most closely associated with traditional concepts of partisanship, i. This paper tries to shed some light by re-visiting the major stations of the debate before considering new longitudinal data and finally turning to the Bundestag election. The question whether Michigan-style identifications do exist in West Europe, where politics was shaped along the lines of ideologies and cleavages, was hotly debated in the s see Dalton, Flanagan, and Beck, for a useful summary.
However, towards the end of the decade a consensus emerged that the concept could indeed be transplanted to the polities on the old continent including Germany, conditional on an operationalisation that caters for multi-party systems Falter, Yet, the late s may very well have marked the height of partisanship in Germany. Mutually re-enforcing processes of socio-economic modernisation, secularisation, and value-change began to undermine the cleavage base of the German party system, which in turn facilitated the rise of the Green party in the s.
Moreover, according to one very influential account Dalton, , the expansion of higher education and the increase in the availability of political information reduced the heuristic value of party identification as a device that reduces cognitive costs. The political crises of the s and early s, on the other hand, had very little effect on levels of party identification in Germany: The decline in partisanship was never sudden but rather glacial and concentrated in those social groups whose loyalties have shaped the modern German party system: More recently, Dassonneville, Hooghe, and Vanhoutte have argued that the decline in partisanship has accelerated and is now most prevalent amongst voters with low levels of formal education, which could in the long run lead to an underrepresentation of vulnerable socio-economic groups in the German party system.
While the SOEP provides unrivalled insights into the individual dynamics of partisanship, it also suffers from a number of drawbacks. First and foremost, after three decades in the field, panel mortality is a serious issue. While the SOEP team claims that they can compensate for attrition by recruiting new households, the structure of the data set and the attached weights have become unwieldy to say the least. Second, the research agenda of the SOEP is primarily driven by economists.
Its questionnaire contains very items with genuinely political content and therefore lacks the priming context that is provided by ordinary opinion surveys. Finally, field work for the SOEP is usually drawn out over a lengthy period of time, whereas polling for other surveys that are used to study partisanship is either continuous or focused on campaigns, i. While none of these issues rule out the SOEP as a valuable data source for analysing dealignment in general and issues of attitude stability at the micro level in particular, the SOEP is less than ideally suited for plotting the long-term levels of partisanship in Germany, or its importance in any given election.
Therefore, the next section will rely on the monthly Politbarometer survey series to chart the decline of partisanship, while the penultimate section will make use of the German Longitudinal Election Study GLES to assess the relevance of party identification for voters in the Bundestag election. Forschungsgruppe Wahlen have been tracking German political attitudes with their monthly Politbarometer surveys since the golden age of party identification in the late s. The Politbarometer follows a classic repeated cross-sectional survey design, where each group of interviewees is sampled independently and thought to be representative for the German population in the respective year and month.
Although Forschungsgruppe is a commercial operation, their raw data are made available for secondary analysis after an embargo of two to three years. Previous analyses of these data for the period have shown that in line with theories of secular dealignment, party identification in Western Germany declines fairly slowly and steadily at a rate of less than one percentage point per year Arzheimer, The series is rather noisy with a standard deviation of 5. This is to be expected, as sampling error alone should result in a standard deviation of roughly 1.
Even after applying a moving average smoother using a five-month 2 1 2 window, the series is rather jittery see Figure 1 , with some of the noise probably being the result of campaign effects the diamond-shaped symbols mark the dates of federal elections. However, it also seems clear that the downward trend of the s and s has slowed down considerably in the new millenium, with the average yearly attrition rate falling well below 0. As the micro data are readily available, it is possible to model the decline in partisanship directly without resorting to the aggregated time series see Arzheimer, A simple descriptive model would start with a logistic regression of holding a party id a dichotomous variable on calendar time, controlling for campaign effects.
Logistic regression enforces an S-shaped link between partisanship and its predictors, which given the empirical distribution of party identifications in the sample between 59 and 84 per cent will result in a nearly linear relationship. To accommodate the apparent non-linear decline of partisanship, following Royston and Sauerbrei a number of fractional polynomial transformations of calendar time were included in a bivariate model not shown , with an additional square root transform providing the best fit.
Since the purpose of the model is descriptive, only two variables were included to account for changes in the composition of the population that occurred over the year period: Formal education people who were educated beyond Mittlere Reife vs. Age, or rather the time at which person was born will affect partisanship in two ways. Therefore, older voters should be more likely to identify with a party. On the other hand, dealignment theory suggests that independent of individual age and across the span of their lives, members of younger cohorts are less likely to identify with a party compared to those who were socialised into the largely stable German party system of the s and s.
Life cycle and cohort effects are notoriously difficult to separate Oppenheim Mason et al. Because age is only recorded in a categorised fashion in the Politbarometer surveys anyway, no such attempt was made. Instead, respondents were split into three broad categories under 35, 35 to 60, and over 60 to control for the slow but momentous demographic changes Germany is undergoing.
Finally, the effects of age and education were allowed to vary over time to account for generational replacement and the new relationship between education and partisanship postulated by Dassonneville, Hooghe, and Vanhoutte Although the additional complexity introduced by the interaction terms is a setback, model comparisons not shown based on the Bayesian Information Criterion BIC demonstrate that such a fully interactive model fits the data much better than either a non-interactive variant or a model that regresses partisanship on calendar time and campaign effects alone.
But the time series seemingly fails to exhibit such behavior. Bedeutung, Verwendung und empirische Relevanz eines politikwissenschaftlichen Begriffes. This includes many variables which are deemed to affect electoral behaviour: Potential cross-pressures notwithstanding, the predicted share of partisans in this group was about 80 percent in the late s, the second highest among all groups depicted in figure 3, but fell to less than 57 percent in , which is the second lowest share. A Third Face of Dealignment? This decline, which amounts to an estimated loss of 16 percentage points, is neither a consequence of the cognitive mobilization effect proposed by Dalton nor can it be explained by the shrinking of traditional social groups. For these persons, all interaction terms drop out of the equation so that the constant reflects the odds of voting for the respective party vs.
Estimated overall levels of partisanship in West Germany, adjusted predictions at representative values APR. Predictions derived from parameter estimates shown in Table 1. Table 1 shows the results. However, since the substantive meaning of logit coefficients is hard to grasp, particularly in the face of additional non-linearities and interactions, the interpretation will focus on a graphical representation. Figure 2 shows that the decline of partisanship has slowed down considerably indeed.
In theory, anything could have happened in the nine months between the current end of the time series and the election, but the graph makes it abundantly clear that dealignment has effectively halted during the last decade under study. The estimated attrition rate for the five-year period from December to December is a mere 0.
Estimated levels of partisanship in West Germany by formal education, adjusted predictions at representative values APR.
Including education, age, and their interaction with time in the model makes it possible to look into group-specific trends in dealignment. Figure 3 shows that partisanship has fallen much more rapidly amongst those with higher formal qualifications, leading to a gap that has become increasingly wider in recent years, as dealignment has essentially petered out amongst those with higher levels of educational attainment. Mehr lesen auf chronik-der-mauer. Mehr lesen auf jugendopposition. Zuflucht gesucht - Seeking Refuge Wahre Welle.
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