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.
- Social democracy
- POLITICAL SPACE