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Aspiration Versus Apprehension: Economic Opportunities and Electoral Preferences


Häusermann, Silja; Kurer, Thomas; Zollinger, Delia (2023). Aspiration Versus Apprehension: Economic Opportunities and Electoral Preferences. British Journal of Political Science, 53(4):1230-1251.

Abstract

Recent studies take increasingly refined views of how socioeconomic conditions influence political behaviour. We add to this literature by exploring how voters' prospective evaluations of long-term economic and social opportunities relate to electoral contestation versus the stabilization of the political-economic system underpinning the knowledge society. Using survey data from eight West European countries, we show that positive prospects are associated with higher support for mainstream parties (incumbents and opposition) and lower support for radical parties on all levels of material well-being. Our results support the idea that ‘aspirational voters’ with positive evaluations of opportunities (for themselves or their children) represent an important stabilizing force in advanced democratic capitalism. However, we also highlight the importance of radical party support among ‘apprehensive voters’, who are economically secure but perceive a lack of long-term opportunities. To assess the implications of these findings, we discuss the relative importance of these groups across different countries.

Abstract

Recent studies take increasingly refined views of how socioeconomic conditions influence political behaviour. We add to this literature by exploring how voters' prospective evaluations of long-term economic and social opportunities relate to electoral contestation versus the stabilization of the political-economic system underpinning the knowledge society. Using survey data from eight West European countries, we show that positive prospects are associated with higher support for mainstream parties (incumbents and opposition) and lower support for radical parties on all levels of material well-being. Our results support the idea that ‘aspirational voters’ with positive evaluations of opportunities (for themselves or their children) represent an important stabilizing force in advanced democratic capitalism. However, we also highlight the importance of radical party support among ‘apprehensive voters’, who are economically secure but perceive a lack of long-term opportunities. To assess the implications of these findings, we discuss the relative importance of these groups across different countries.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:economic and social opportunities; electoral behaviour; radical party support; knowledge economy; European politics
Language:English
Date:1 October 2023
Deposited On:23 Oct 2023 08:16
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:47
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:0007-1234
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007123423000145
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)