Victorian Voting: The Origins of Party Orientation and Class Alignment

VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Paper No.121

67 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2018 Last revised: 9 Oct 2019

See all articles by Torun Dewan

Torun Dewan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

Jaakko Meriläinen

Stockholm University, Students

Janne Tukiainen

VATT Institute for Economic Research; University of Turku - Turku School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 30, 2019

Abstract

Much of what we know about the alignment of voters with parties comes from mass surveys of the electorate in the postwar period or from aggregate electoral data. Using individual elector level panel data from 19th-century United Kingdom poll books, we reassess the development of a party-centred electorate. We show that (i) the electorate was party-centred by the time of the extension of the franchise in 1867; (ii) a decline in candidate-centred voting is largely attributable to changes in the behaviour of the working class; and (iii) the enfranchised working class aligned with the Liberal left. This early alignment of the working class with the left cannot entirely be explained by a decrease in vote buying. The evidence suggests instead that the alignment was based on the programmatic appeal of the Liberals. We argue that these facts can plausibly explain the subsequent development of the party system.

Keywords: Candidate-vs-party-oriented voting, party development, partisan alignment

JEL Classification: C23, D72, N33

Suggested Citation

Dewan, Torun and Meriläinen, Jaakko and Tukiainen, Janne, Victorian Voting: The Origins of Party Orientation and Class Alignment (August 30, 2019). VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Paper No.121. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3112208 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3112208

Torun Dewan

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )

Northampton NN7 1NE
United Kingdom

Jaakko Meriläinen

Stockholm University, Students ( email )

Stockholm
Sweden

Janne Tukiainen (Contact Author)

VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Arkadiankatu 7
P.O Box 1279
Helsinki, FIN-00101
Finland

University of Turku - Turku School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkatu 3
Turku, 20014
Finland

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