Party Identification and Party Choice

Frode Berglund, Sören Holmberg, Hermann Schmitt, Jacques Thomassen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    This chapter tests the validity of two alternative theoretical perspectives on the evolution of party identification. According to the first perspective, which is based on the theory of modernization, one should expect a secular decline of the level of party identification. The reason is that modern, well educated citizens do not need the cue of party identification anymore. The second perspective focuses on political rather than social correlates of party identification, and predicts less linear developments. Adversary politics is supposed to be favourable for the development of partisanship, while a broad political consensus across the major parties is expected to suppress the development of party identification. Whereas the first perspective predicts a linear decline of partisanship, the second one does not. The empirical evidence with regard to the first perspective is mixed. Although party identifiers have become less numerous over time, this development is anything but monotonous in most countries. Moreover, the micro-theory underlying the theory of modernisation is not corroborated. Contrary to expectations, cognitive mobilisation does not lead to a lower level of party identification. However, the evidence supporting the second perspective is equally ambivalent. The political correlates of the development of party identification are modest at best, and cannot fully explain what is going on in the six West European countries under study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe European Voter
    Subtitle of host publicationA Comparative Study of Modern Democracies
    EditorsJacques Thomassen
    Place of PublicationNew York, NY
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISBN (Print)0-19-927321-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Publication series

    NameComparative politics
    PublisherOxford University Press


    • Party identification
    • Partisanship
    • Party choice


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