Politics divided from society? Three explanations for trends in societal and political polarisation in the Netherlands

Annemarije Oosterwaal, René Torenvlied*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A growing political polarisation on ethnic integration policy is characteristic of current discussions in Dutch politics. The preferences of Dutch citizens, by contrast, remain fairly stable over time. Thus, polarised politics in the Netherlands is assumed to grow apart from the preferences of ordinary citizens, leading to a gap between politics and society. The present article describes and compares trends in societal and political polarisation on ethnic integration policy in the Netherlands between 1994 and 2006. Three mechanisms are explored that explain a discrepancy between trends in political and societal polarisation: (a) parties' responsiveness to political elites, (b) mean partisan representation, and (c) issue salience. Analyses of data from Dutch election studies and party manifestos reveal the existence of a discrepancy in trends. Political polarisation appears to be associated with trends in mean partisan polarisation and in issue salience, and not with trends in political elite polarisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-279
Number of pages22
JournalWest European politics
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

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