Party Realignment and Single-Issue Voters:  Evidence from Brexit

14 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2023

See all articles by Christian Cox

Christian Cox

University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Ian Shapiro

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 15, 2023

Abstract

This paper studies the effects of the referendum on the British exit from the European Union on the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. We look at the change in positions of Conservative Members of Parliament using a novel dataset of their opinions on British membership of the EU between 2015 and 2022. We explore the role of the United Kingdom Independence Party's collapse in these trends and contrast the outcomes with the 1975 referendum, focusing on the possible roles of discipline and entryism. Our finding that Conservative MPs who resisted switching to a pro-Leave position paid a significant electoral cost underscores that weakening political parties can render them vulnerable to hostile takeovers.

Keywords: Referendums, single-issue politics, political parties

Suggested Citation

Cox, Christian and Shapiro, Ian, Party Realignment and Single-Issue Voters:  Evidence from Brexit (June 15, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4555869 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4555869

Christian Cox (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

Ian Shapiro

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

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