Lost connection? The attitudinal and ideological (in)congruence of social democracy's elites, members and voters in Flanders-Belgium

Christiaan Reinier Gaasendam*, Koen Abts, Marc Swyngedouw, Bart Meuleman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In this article we investigate the electoral decline of the Flemish social democratic party sp.a by analysing the intraparty (in)congruence in opinion structure using a unique pooled dataset that contains party elites, members and voters in Flanders-Belgium. We combine two complementary approaches on incongruence: attitudinal and ideological congruence. A hypothesis derived from post-Marxism is formulated in terms of attitudinal congruence and tested using pairwise means comparisons, while hypotheses from cleavage theory are formulated in terms of ideological incongruence and tested empirically using Latent Class Analysis. Results show that party elites predominantly adhere to a left-universalistic ideology while left-particularists have left the party en masse, confirming the realignment thesis of cleavage theory and rejecting expectations from post-Marxist theory. We conclude that Flemish social democracy's left-universalistic elites have largely lost connection with their left-particularistic base while managing an insufficient appeal among (centre-)left-universalistic middle class voters.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalActa Politica
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

Keywords

  • Social democracy
  • sp
  • a
  • Belgium
  • Elites
  • Members
  • Congruence
  • POLITICAL SPACE
  • WESTERN-EUROPE
  • WORKING-CLASS
  • PARTIES
  • TRANSFORMATION
  • REPRESENTATION
  • GLOBALIZATION
  • EMERGENCE

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