Political Cleavages in
Advanced Industrial Societies
This chapter focuses on political cleavages in the advanced industrial world. The analyses shown in the chapter assess the extent to which issue-oriented dimensions of conflict, such as postmodern-fundamentalist orientations, left- right materialist preferences, and materialist-postmaterialist values, are significant sources of relevant political cleavages. I find that economic left-right materialist orientations are still predominant cleavages in most advanced democracies, but postmodern-fundamentalist orientations also play a very important role. The analysis focuses mainly on West European and North American democracies, as well as Japan.
I also analyze Spain, Portugal, and the former German Democratic Republic in this chapter. These newer and relatively less developed democracies are not divided by democratic-authoritarian orientations. More than two decades after transition to democracy took place, neither Spaniards nor the Portuguese are divided by democratic and authoritarian concerns. Spain shows an issue configuration similar to that in the rest of Western Europe, though the main cleavages seem to be defined by regional divisions. Such a configuration is not as well crystallized in Portugal, where left-right materialist concerns seem to divide the main parties. The German unification provides a context for applying the same focus to both eastern and western Germany. East Germans show an issue configuration very similar to that of their western counterparts. In both parts of the country religious orientations play a very important role, but these differences are more ideological in the western part and relatively more structural in the eastern region.
In the following sections I describe the general issue orientations that define the space of competition in the advanced industrial world. Then I analyze the political cleavages of advanced democracies by focusing on different groups of societies.