Has the Electoral Realignment of 2019 Endured the Pandemic
24 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2022
Date Written: March 1, 2022
This article uses the 2021 British Election Study (BES) dataset to analyse the extent to which the electoral realignment arising from the 2019 election has endured the pandemic. It isolates Conservative and Labour voters, both within and outside Red Wall areas, and tracks the extent to which their views on the EU and immigration have changed since 2019 and affected the probability to vote for the two main parties. The purpose of this paper is to examine two competing theories concerning the realignment’s durability. The first theory states that due to the pandemic making economic thoughts more salient the left/right divide should return, and therefore weaken the realignment that sits on a different ideological divide. The second theory states the realignment is broader than Brexit and with the Conservative’s “levelling up” agenda the realignment can translate into economic debates and endure. The results of this paper show that in terms of the 2021 local elections the realignment was able to endure the immediate effects of the pandemic. Whilst realignment patterns are not completely transferred on all variables that measure the realignment, there is far more evidence to suggest that so far the realignment has endured the pandemic than not. Therefore, this paper’s findings has implications in understanding the direction of British politics and shaping voting behaviour going into the next local elections and general election.
Keywords: Realignment, British Politics, elections, electoral shocks, Labour, Conservative, BES
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