Social structure and voting in the Austrian party system

Christian Haerpfer, Ernst Gehmacher

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12 Citations (Scopus)


An analysis of electoral behaviour in the Austrian party system shows that the cleavages, social class and religion, are still playing a major role-their total impact seems higher than in most Western democracies. In the seventies a declining influence of both dimensions can be registered; but after closer inspection, most of it seems to be due to structural changes. Particularly the expansion of intermediate and higher education can be hypothesized to dissolve the traditional Lager-structure, which made for a very stable vote throughout the electoral history of the Second Austrian Republic. But the question remains, whether the increase in floating vote really supersedes the class and religious cleavages, or only produces more oscillating election outcomes. The analysis also makes clear why regional cleavages are of minor general impact in Austria: on the one hand, historical West-East differentiations prevail over urban-rural cleavages, on the other hand, Austria seems to be too small to give way to major cultural drifting between regions. None the less, the impact of social structure upon voting behaviour seems to be significantly higher than in most Western nations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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