Issues and party competition in the Netherlands

Kees Aarts, Stuart Elaine Macdonald, George Rabinowitz

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The Netherlands represents the prototypic case of a consociational democracy; in addition, the Dutch system has an extremely low threshold for obtaining representation in the legislature, making it open to challengers of any political persuasion. This article has two explicit goals: to compare two models of issue-based party choice, the directional and proximity models; and to understand the changing nature of electoral competition in the Netherlands. The article's analytic focus is the elections of 1971, 1986, and 1994. These elections, the only ones for which appropriate data are available for testing the issue theories, represent important points in the historical sequence. Tests of the alternate issue voting models generally favor directional over proximity theory. The broader analysis suggests substantial change in Dutch politics, away from the tight structuring of subcultural allegiances to a more politically homogeneous culture in which party strength appears rather fluid.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)63-99
Number of pages37
JournalComparative political studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • METIS-100542
  • IR-60209

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