Subconstituency Reactions to Elite Depolarization in the Netherlands: An Analysis of the Dutch Public’s Policy Beliefs and Partisan Loyalties, 1986–98

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Autori: James Adams, Catherine E. De Vries, Debra Leiter

British Journal of Political Science January 2012 42 : pp 81-105


During the 1980s and the 1990s, the elites of the two largest Dutch parties converged dramatically in debates on income redistribution, nuclear power and the overall Left–Right dimension, paving the way for the Dutch party system’s polarization on immigration and cultural issues. Did the Dutch mass public depolarize along with party elites, and, if so, was this mass-level depolarization confined to affluent, educated, politically engaged citizens? Analysis of Dutch Parliamentary Election Study respondents’ policy beliefs and partisan loyalties in 1986–98 shows that the mass public depolarized during this period, and that this extended equally throughout the electorate. These conclusions mirror previous findings on Britain, but differ from those on the United States, and have important implications for political representation and for parties’ election strategies.

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