SUMMARY - Political Cleavages and Social Inequalities - Amory Gethin & Clara Martínez-Toledano & Thomas Piketty



Here are the key points summarized:

  • The chapter aims to systematically analyze the relationship between social inequalities (income, education) and political alignments/cleavages across 50 democracies since the 1940s.

  • It introduces a conceptual framework using income and education as primary measures of social class/inequality and explores how they interact with reinforcing or cross-cutting political cleavages.

  • A new comparative database of ~500 elections is presented, harmonizing survey data to make income, voting, education comparable over time and countries. Analysis focuses on broad income/education groups.

  • The data quality varies significantly between countries/regions. Western countries generally have higher quality exit poll data while data is lower for some other places.

  • A key focus is identifying which party disproportionately receives support from the bottom 50% income earners in each country to facilitate cross-country comparisons over time.

  • Table 1.1 lists the main left-leaning or "pro-poor" party identified in the most recent election for each of the 50 countries as a starting point for analysis.

So in summary, it establishes a framework and dataset to systematically study how social inequalities relate to political alignments globally and how this has changed over time using income and education as core indicators.

Here is a summary:

  • Rural-urban, regional, and generational cleavages often correlate with and reinforce underlying class and socioeconomic divisions in many countries. However, the strength and direction of these alignments vary significantly across contexts.

  • In Western democracies historically, rural-urban cleavages aided socialist and labor parties by helping them attract urban industrial working classes. Regional identities have amplified in some places like Spain and Belgium due to wealth disparities.

  • Younger generations in the West have prioritized new issues like the environment, driving transformations like the rise of Green parties.

  • Non-Western countries generally see closer ties between rural identity, poverty, and support for broad left/populist coalitions. But some have weak rural-urban divisions (Japan, India) or multiple subnational power blocs (Indonesia).

  • Strong regionalism emerges where identities cluster regionally combined with uneven development, as in some developing nations and ethnically/linguistically divided countries.

  • Cleavages interact - educational expansion weakened class identity while emphasizing regional-generational values in the multi-elite party systems that emerged across much of the democratic world.

    Here is a summary of the key points about changing political cleavages in France over time based on the article:

  • Historically, voting patterns in France were correlated with socioeconomic status, with lower-income and lower-wealth voters more likely to support left-wing parties. This represented a class-based cleavage structure.

  • However, starting in the late 20th century there was a reversal whereby higher levels of education and income/wealth began predicting increased support for left-wing parties.

  • Wealth emerged as a stronger predictor of voting behavior than income alone. Those in the top 1% and 10% of wealth were least likely to vote for left-wing candidates.

  • Over time, the gap in left-wing vote between wealthy/poor and educated/non-educated declined somewhat but wealth remained an important factor.

  • By the 2010s, France showed signs of a "multi-elite" system with educated high-income voters split between left and right and diverging from less educated lower-income groups.

  • In summary, France underwent a transformation from class-based to more multidimensional cleavages as education replaced income/wealth as a key divider of left-right voting patterns.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The passage examines the evolution of political cleavages in Germany from 1949 to 2017 based on analysis of electoral and survey data.

  • Traditionally, Germany had a stable political system characterized as a "Chancellor democracy" with the center-left SPD and center-right CDU/CSU parties dominating.

  • However, voting patterns in relation to socioeconomic factors like education, income, and profession have changed significantly over time.

  • In earlier decades, lower-educated and lower-income voters tended to support the left-leaning SPD more, while higher statuses leaned right to the CDU/CSU.

  • Gradually, higher education became a strong predictor of left voting, reversing this cleavage. Germany developed a "multi-elite" system with left support from the highly educated.

  • Income and profession cleavages have remained more stable, but education is now the strongest divider of political preferences.

  • The transformation suggests Germany experienced a "great reversal" of its political divisions similar to other countries, driven by factors like globalization and education expansion.

In summary, the passage documents Germany's transition from a largely class-based system to a "multi-elite" model divided along lines of education, through the lens of changing electoral cleavages since 1949.

Here is a revised summary focusing only on the key points about Finland:

  • Finland had a historically dominant Social Democratic Party and four other major parties representing different sectors of society. No single party ever gained a majority.

  • In the 1990s, Finland faced an economic crisis which a center-right government addressed with austerity measures.

  • The True Finns emerged in the 2000s as a nationalist populist party, becoming the 3rd largest party in 2011 and joining a center-right coalition government.

  • The True Finns differed from other Nordic far-right parties in advocating for progressive taxation rather than lower taxes. However, they aligned with anti-immigration stances of similar parties elsewhere.

  • Finnish politics has retained some importance of class cleavage with Social Democrats gaining most working-class support, while education impacted left/green party support more than in Norway/Denmark. Regional divides also influence voting.

    Here is a summary:

  • European far-right parties have emerged in opposition to immigration and multiculturalism across many countries. These parties typically attract lower-educated and lower-income voters.

  • Iceland has historically had a stable multi-party system dominated by the center-left Social Democratic Alliance, left-wing Left-Green Movement, right-wing Independence Party, and center-right Progressive Party.

  • The Progressive Party draws most support from lower-educated rural voters, while left parties gain support from highly educated urban voters. This contrasts with trends elsewhere in Northern Europe where lower-educated voters support far-right populist parties.

  • Iceland lacks strong far-right nationalist parties and has a weaker relationship between socioeconomic status and party choice compared to other Nordic states. The Progressive Party occupies some of the niche of far-right parties elsewhere.

  • Gender, urban-rural, and private vs public sector cleavages have also influenced Icelandic politics in recent decades alongside the traditional left-right dimension. The stable party system has shown resilience to change.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Belgium transitioned to democracy in the late 19th/early 20th century after gaining independence in 1830. However, political divisions along linguistic and religious lines (French-speaking vs Dutch-speaking; Catholic vs Liberal) persisted.

  • A system of consociationalism developed where power was shared between the main linguistic-religious communities through proportional representation and consensus decision-making. Major parties represented these identities.

  • In the post-WW2 era, the traditional Christian Democrat, Liberal, and Socialist parties dominated through centrist policies of cooperation. Regionalist parties also gained strength representing Flemish/Walloon interests.

  • Starting in the 1980s, Belgium experienced gradual realignment as new issues like European integration, immigration, and secularization challenged the old cleavage structures. Green and far-right parties emerged.

  • The linguistic divide has deepened as Flemish nationalism strengthened. However, a multi-party system remains centered around the old mainstream parties cooperating in complex coalition governments. Compared to neighbors, Belgium shows resilience of consociational traditions.

In summary, Belgium transitioned to a consociational democracy after independence to manage religious and linguistic divisions, though new issues and regionalism have drove some realignment over time within a stable multi-party framework.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • In the late 19th century, the ench-speaking Catholic bourgeoisie opposed Dutch rule in Belgium and pushed for greater autonomy and recognition of French and Dutch languages.

  • After Belgian independence in 1830, the main political divisions were between liberals and Catholics, reflecting linguistic and religious cleavages in society.

  • A Flemish nationalist movement emerged in the 20th century seeking equal status for Dutch speakers. This deepened linguistic divisions as economic disparities grew between Flanders and Wallonia.

  • Federalization progressed from the 1970s, formally recognizing Flanders and Wallonia as regions in the 1994 constitution. Traditional parties split along linguistic lines and new Flemish nationalist parties formed.

  • Political deadlocks periodically occurred as no single party held a majority, requiring broad coalition governments. Tensions remain between the Dutch-speaking north and French-speaking south.

In summary, the early political landscape in Belgium was defined by opposition of the French- and Dutch-speaking Catholic bourgeoisie to Dutch rule, and later evolved along growing linguistic and regional divisions between Flanders and Wallonia. Flemish nationalism further politicized this divide.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • State election results in India have become more divergent from national Lok Sabha election trends over time. While the BJP formed a national government in the 1990s, they only recently ruled a majority of states.

  • The BJP's growing state-level success has largely come at the expense of the Indian National Congress (INC). The share of states ruled by left-wing and regional parties has remained stable.

  • Three main factors have driven divergence in state party systems: the long-term decline of Congress, the BJP's rise in northern Hindi states, and increasing regionalization of politics.

  • This has led to different types of party systems emerging across states, from two-party BJP-Congress models to regional party dominance.

  • Caste strongly impacts voter support - the BJP receives more upper caste backing while lower castes and Muslims are less likely to support it. Polarization is higher where the BJP competes with Congress.

  • States like Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have seen less polarized politics along caste lines due to strong regional or left parties.

    Here is a summary:

  • The Komeito party in Japan promotes the interests of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist religious movement and has received a stable 10-15% of votes since the 1970s.

  • Though ideologically different, the LDP and Komeito formed an electoral alliance to gain enough seats to form governments, coordinating to not run against each other in many districts.

  • Japan has seen a surge in independent "floating" voters with no clear party affiliation, rising from 16% in 1966 to 60% in the early 2000s. Parties have also converged somewhat in policies.

  • Education remains a strong predictor of voting behavior, with university-educated voters consistently supporting progressive opposition since the 1950s. However, this gap narrowed from 20 points in 1953 to 8 points in 2012-2017.

  • Japan has undergone major demographic changes like education expansion, aging, and urbanization that have impacted its political cleavages over time. Rural-urban and income divides have also declined as predictors of conservative voting.

    Here is a summary:

  • Original cleavages in Indonesian politics included religious (Muslim vs non-Muslim) and nationalist divisions from the 1950s independence era. These influenced traditional parties like PDI-P and Golkar.

  • However, over time new "catch-all" personalistic parties have emerged, blurring ideological lines. Religious cleavages have declined as secular parties formed coalitions with Islamic parties.

  • Regional identities remain important, with parties drawing support from particular areas. But some national parties have also emerged since democratization in 1999.

  • Socioeconomic issues like inequality are rising in salience but parties have not sorted purely along economic ideological lines. Religious differences between practicing and non-practicing Muslims have also diminished.

  • While national trends show declining cleavages, local politics have seen ethnic and religious divisions influence some recent events like the 2016-17 Jakarta governor protests. Overall, Indonesia's party system has become more dealigned over time.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Brazil has seen significant shifts in electoral cleavages over the past few decades as social and economic conditions changed.

  • Initially after redemocratization, the left-wing Workers' Party (PT) gained more support from higher-income, urban, educated voters.

  • As the PT implemented social programs like Bolsa Familia under Lula and Dilma, support increasingly came from lower-income, poorer, rural, less educated voters in the Northeast region who benefited the most.

  • By 2018, this had almost completely reversed - the PT's base was now predominantly lower-income groups, while wealthier, educated voters moved away amid corruption scandals and economic problems.

  • Other cleavages like rural-urban and racial differences also evolved, with the rural-urban gap narrowing and non-white voters more likely to support the PT, though socioeconomics remain the dominant factor.

  • The unique policy-driven shifts in the PT's electoral coalition from elite to lower-income demonstrate how cleavages can change significantly based on political and economic conditions.

    Here is a summary of the key points about political cleavages in Peru:

  • Peru has historically had deep divisions along socioeconomic, ethnic, and geographic lines dating back to the colonial period. Indigenous peoples faced discrimination.

  • After independence in 1821, early constitutions envisioned a homogeneous nation but excluded indigenous groups from full rights and participation.

  • Stable democracy and economic development took longer in Peru compared to other Latin American countries. Various military dictatorships and instability were common throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Divisions persist between coastal elites in Lima versus indigenous highlanders in the Andes. Economic inequality reinforces these cleavages.

  • Ethno-linguistic divides also exist based on whether one identifies as Quechua, Aymara, or Spanish-speaking. Indigenous groups still face barriers to political influence.

  • In recent decades, left-wing political figures like Alan Garcia and Ollanta Humala have aimed to address inequality but faced opposition from conservative elites.

  • Alberto Fujimori temporarily stabilized politics in the 1990s but used authoritarian measures and was later convicted of corruption and human rights abuses.

  • Overall, geographical, ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural divisions set in during colonial times continue shaping Peruvian politics today. Enduring inequalities present challenges to consolidating democracy.

    Here is a summary:

  • South Africa has a history of racial division and inequality entrenched by the apartheid system. This has heavily influenced the country's political landscape since the transition to democracy in 1994.

  • Voting patterns remain strongly aligned along racial lines, with the majority of black voters supporting the ANC and opposition parties like the DA receiving more support from white voters.

  • However, rising economic inequality, the emergence of a black middle class, and dissatisfaction with the ANC's performance have created opportunities for political realignment. Younger, wealthier black South Africans are less likely to back the ANC.

  • The ANC has dominated through mobilizing racial solidarity among black voters rather than building cross-racial coalitions. Reducing overall inequality and continued socioeconomic changes may be necessary to transform South Africa's dominant party system over the long term.

  • Opposition parties face challenges in attracting multiracial support while racial identities remain politically salient. However, class is becoming a stronger determinant of voting preferences within the black population.

    Here are the key points from the passage:

  • The chapter examines the evolution of voting patterns and political cleavages in Israel from 1949 to 2019. It looks at the influence of ethnicity, religion, education, socioeconomics, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • Some unique aspects of Israel compared to other wealthy democracies include the dominance of the Labor party for 30 years after 1948, high inequality, immigration patterns, and the impact of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • From 1948-1977, the Mapai/Labor party was the dominant party in Israel. Since 1977, the Likud liberal-right party has also risen to power on a regular basis through coalition governments.

  • Polarization along religious-secular lines has increased markedly since the 1990s as the Ultra-Orthodox population has grown. Religiosity is now a stronger predictor of voting behavior.

  • Socioeconomic status also shapes voting, with higher income, education correlated with support for more right-leaning parties favoring smaller government intervention in the economy.

So in summary, the chapter analyzes how political cleavages in Israel have evolved from ethnicity/conflict dimensions to include stronger divisions along religious and socioeconomic lines as well.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Algeria transitioned from post-colonial authoritarian rule under the FLN party to brief democratic opening in the 1990s, followed by civil war and continued authoritarianism.

  • The FLN and military maintained dominance through regular but criticized elections that perpetuated the status quo. Constitutional changes strengthened executive power.

  • The 2011 Arab Spring had little impact due to government subsidies and programs, but opposition groups formed and protests grew in 2019 against Bouteflika's fifth term bid.

  • Spatial inequalities exist between wealthier northern and poorer southern regions, though regionalism has not influenced politics significantly.

  • Berber ethnic identity is a factor, as the Berber minority faces some discrimination, but ethno-religious divisions have not been major political cleavages compared to socioeconomic issues.

  • Overall, authoritarian tendencies have persisted through successive administrations backed by the military-FLN alliance, limiting democratic progress despite regular elections. Opposition remains weak and divided.

    Here is a summary:

  • The Kabylia region of Algeria is home to an indigenous Berber population known as the Mazigh.

  • The Mazigh/Berber population in Kabylia tends to support more secular opposition parties rather than the ruling FLN and RND parties.

  • This is likely due to the Mazigh feeling potentially excluded from power networks that are dominated by the ruling parties.

  • The ruling parties have maintained popularity by reconciling class divisions and distributing hydrocarbon wealth through subsidies. This has helped maintain the status quo.

  • Younger generations are less likely to support the historically powerful FLN party compared to older voters, showing a generational cleavage.

  • High youth unemployment has also fueled thoughts of emigration among young people.

  • Abstention from voting and protests have become new forms of political participation among disadvantaged groups who feel excluded from the traditional political system.

    Here is a summary of the key points around onomic divides as well as some new divides around immigration and integration issues:

  • Rural-urban cleavages exist in many countries, with rural voters often preferring different parties than urban voters due to different social, economic, and policy preferences.

  • Regional divisions within countries are also present, as different regions may face distinct cultural, economic, or political issues.

  • Educational cleavages are a factor, as less educated voters tend to support different parties than higher educated voters in several countries.

  • Income and wealth inequality can drive political cleavages, as poorer voters often favor more redistributive policies than wealthier voters.

  • In the UK, Scotland had a separatist movement seeking independence.

  • Social democratic voters in the UK supported Labour and Liberal parties and were drawn from lower incomes and education levels.

  • In the US, cleavages exist along lines of class, race, ethnicity, education, income, religion, and urban/rural divides.

  • Immigration and integration have also emerged as new issues dividing certain voters.

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