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Farewell to the leftist working clas

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For decades on end, members of the lower socio-economic strata have been voting for leftist parties in many Western countries. These conventional class-party ties have come to an end, puzzling many political commentators. Instead of voting for a leftist party, the working classes’ preferences have shifted towards populist parties like PVV, VlaamsBelang, FPO, and UKIP.
In this lecture, Peter Achterberg will discuss why this is so. More specifically, he will discuss three questions: 1) What explains the rise of radical right-wing political parties? 2) What explains the voting preferences of the working classes? And 3) Why have these changed in time?Lecture for Tilburg University Alumni: March 16th

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Farewell to the leftist working clas

  1. 1. - Peter Achterberg - -- Professor of Sociology -- --- Alumni Event Tilburg University --- ---- 03/16/2017 ----
  2. 2. First things first…. Which party did you vote for yesterday? https://www.menti.com/ec8bcf
  3. 3. The students’ results… Poll by Universonline.nl Not in any way representative…
  4. 4. The alumni-poll https://www.mentimeter.com/s/6a488 5ac5e71866c2881e2539246abd3/168 749253c56 Not in any way representative…
  5. 5. The Netherlands: A guide to the rest of the world?
  6. 6. The Cinderella complex
  7. 7. Populism as antagonism An ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite; , and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté genérale of the people (Mudde, 2004: 543)
  8. 8. What explains the rise of such populism? Giovanni Sartori – Founding father of political sociology Margareth Canovan – Explaining the rise of populism Pippa Norris – Discovering the democratic deficit
  9. 9. The democratic deficit (ESS, 2014, NL) 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Democratische aspiraties Vertrouwen politiek Kloof
  10. 10. Two types of consequences Voting on the edge! Support radical democratization!
  11. 11. Populism as nativism An ideology which holds that states should be inhabited by members of the native group and that nonnative elements (persons and ideas) are fundamentally threathening to the homogeneous nation state (Mudde, 2007: 19)
  12. 12. What explains the rise of such populism? Ronald Inglehart – the rise of postmaterialism
  13. 13. Conflict in Dutch Communist Party On the (New) Left: On the Right (Old Left): Ina Brouwer Marcus Bakker
  14. 14. What explains the rise of such populism? Ronald Inglehart – the rise of postmaterialism Ignazi – the silent counterrevolution
  15. 15. New-Rightist Politics Disturbs Regular Conservative Parties, Too… Mark Rutte (left) Rita Verdonk (right)
  16. 16. What explains the rise of such populism? Ronald Inglehart – the rise of postmaterialism Ignazi – the silent counterrevolution Houtman, Achterberg & Derks - Detraditionalization
  17. 17. Detraditionalization
  18. 18. Two types of consequences Voting behavior And in the wake of this: A structural realignment of politics Etnocentrism
  20. 20. Cleavage Politics (Lipset, Rokkan, Kriesi) • Cleavage = more or less stable relationship between social structure, political values, and political parties • ‘Class cleavage’, i.e., ‘class politics’: • The working class traditionally supports the leftist parties because its members favor economic redistribution, while the middle class votes for the rightist parties, because it rejects these policies
  21. 21. A decline in class politics? • Traditionally, class has been one of the most important predictors for voting behavior (cf. Alford, 1967) • This, however, has gradually but surely changed in the postwar period – – Working class increasingly votes right - Middle class increasingly votes left (cf. Manza & Brooks, 1999; Nieuwbeerta 1995; Clark & Lipset 1991)
  22. 22. : Nieuwbeerta, 1995
  23. 23. Manza & Brooks, 1999
  24. 24. Economic and cultural capital: Bourdieu, 1984 Cultural specialists Economic specialists Economic capital Cultural capital
  25. 25. A two-dimensional ideological space? • Based on surveys in all western countries • …in the postwar period • …applicable for the general public • (not so much for elites…)
  26. 26. Distinguishing Class Voting from Cultural Voting Class _ Economic Progressiveness + + Leftist Voting _ Cultural Capital _ Authoritarianism
  27. 27. A cultural realignment? • Findings: – A strong economic position produces economic conservatism-driven rightist voting; a weak economic position produces economic progressiveness-driven leftist voting (=class voting) – Cultural capital produces libertarianism- driven leftist voting; lack of cultural capital produces authoritarianism-driven rightist voting (=cultural voting)
  28. 28. A cultural realignment? • Findings: – Voting for either old left or old right (VVD) constitutes class voting (economically driven: leftist-voting working class and rightist-voting middle class) – Voting for either New Left or New Right constitutes cultural voting (culturally driven: rightist-voting working class and leftist-voting middle class!!!)
  29. 29. A cultural realignment? “Class Is Not Dead – It Has Been Buried Alive” (Van der Waal et al., 2007)
  30. 30. Conclusions • Populism as antagonism • Result of technocratic politics • Brings quest for democratization • Populism as nativism • As a reaction against new leftist movements of the 1960s • Brings a cultural realignment of politics • Explains why we predicted the demise of the dutch Labour party in 2009