Class voting and left-right party positions: a comparative study of fifteen western democracies, 1960-2005

Giedo Jansen, Geoffrey Evans, Nan Dirk de Graaf

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Studies that explain class voting have often focused on ‘bottom-up” social factors, but paid little attention to ‘top-down’ political factors. In this chapter, we argue that party positions on left-right ideology affect the strength of class voting. We test this thesis by estimating the impact of Left-Right party positions on the class-vote association through a Two-Step Hierarchical analysis of pooled data from Australia, the United States and 13 countries in Western-Europe (1960-2005) supplemented with data from the Comparative Manifesto Project. Although there is a general trend for class voting to decline over time, partially accounted for by the impact of education, we find that most variation in class voting does not take the form of a linear decline. The ideological positions of left-wing parties alone do not have any effect, but the polarization of parties along the left-right dimension is associated with substantially higher levels of class voting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical choice matters
Subtitle of host publicationexplaining the strength of class and religious cleavages in cross-national perspective
EditorsGeoffrey Evans, Nan Dirk de Graaf
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages448
ISBN (Print)9780199663996
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Social class
  • Class voting
  • Party manifestos
  • Party positions
  • Voting behaviour
  • Electoral change
  • Comparative analysis
  • Western democracies


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