Political Cleavages: Issues, Parties, and the Consolidation of Democracy

By Alejandro Moreno | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER ONE
Democracy, Democratization, and
Political Cleavages

Party competition generally centers on a dominant dimension or dimensions of conflict that reflect the most salient political cleavages in a given society during a given period of time. The most common dimension of political conflict has traditionally been the left-right polarization of economic issues, which tends to reflect a class antagonism. In the late 1950s, Seymour M. Lipset summed up a huge body of findings that showed the correspondence between class interests and party support in established democracies. "The party struggle," he said, "is a conflict among classes, and the most impressive fact about party support is that in virtually every developed country the lower-income groups vote mainly for parties of the left, while the higher income groups vote mainly for parties of the right" ( Lipset 1960:234).

The rise of new political issues and groups in West European societies in the 1960s and 1970s generated a wide revision of Lipset's theory. Parties of the so-called new left drew a broader support from middle-class constituencies, and new right parties became more popular among working-class voters. Part of the explanation for this apparent paradox lies in the new meanings of "left" and "right." The new left embraced issues such as environmental protection and gender relations; the new right adopted messages of racism and xenophobia.

The classic left-right ideological dimension refers to specific economic issues, such as the level of state intervention in the economy, public versus private ownership of the means of production, the extent of social and welfare policies, and economic freedom and equality. The major conflict among political parties in most advanced industrial democracies centered on the question Who gets what? Although political elites and parties disagreed on policles of redistribution, they generally agreed with the idea that democratic politics and procedures were the best way to achieve their programmatic goals.

-9-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Political Cleavages: Issues, Parties, and the Consolidation of Democracy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 212

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?