Measuring Partisanship as a Social Identity in Multi-Party Systems

Alexa Bankert, Leonie Huddy, Martin Rosema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


There is no doubt that partisanship is a powerful influence on democratic political behavior. But there is also a lively debate on its nature and origins: Is it largely instrumental in nature and shaped by party performance and issues stances? Or is it basically a long-standing expressive identity reinforced by motivated reasoning and strong emotions? We assess the nature of partisanship in the European context, examining the measurement properties and predictive validity of a multi-item partisan identity scale included in national surveys conducted in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.K. Using a latent variable model, we show that an eight-item partisan identity scale provides greater information about partisan intensity than a standard single-item and has the same measurement properties across the three countries. In addition, the identity scale better predicts in-party voting and political participation than a measure of ideological intensity (based on both left–right self-placement and agreement with the party on key issues), providing support for an expressive approach to partisanship in several European democracies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-132
JournalPolitical behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • IR-104098
  • METIS-321937


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