Autori: Paolo Bellucci, Oliver Heath
British Journal of Political Science January 2012 42 : pp 107-135
No consensus exists on the causal mechanisms underpinning declining voting based on social cleavages – religion and class – in Europe. Previous research has emphasized two main factors: social change within the electorate (bottom-up) and parties’ policy polarization (top-down). This article presents a third level of analysis that links parties and cleavage-related social organizations, producing a factor capable of reinforcing group identity and interest representation. This hypothesis was tested for Italy in 1968–2008, where changes in the party system provided a natural experiment to assess the impact of changing structural alternatives at the party–organizational level. The level of cleavage voting in Italy then responded primarily to changes in the structure of party–organization linkages, while the impact of policy mobilization and social change was negligible.