If Money Talks, What Does It Say About Brexit?
DCU Brexit Institute - Working paper N. 9 - 2018
20 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 2, 2018
Political finance scholars have paid little attention to the partisan preferences of business donors. This was because business donors were overwhelmingly concerned with the left-right dimension and enjoyed stable relationships with centre-right parties. These parties are increasingly tempted by nationalist positions on a globalisation dimension. This new ideological flux provides an opportunity to measure the extent to which donors are party identifiers or react to changes in the policy space. Dramatic shifts in party policy on both dimensions and a relatively transparent political finance regime make the UK a particularly apposite case to study this question. I analyse 19,000 donations to the Conservative Party and show that business donors reacted strongly to recent shifts on both the left-right and globalisation dimensions. Thus, centre-right parties cannot rely on party identification and their left-right position to maintain business funding. Economic nationalism costs centre-right parties money.
Keywords: Brexit, political finance, business and politics, Conservative Party, policy space, political parties
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