The Great Recession and new class voting in Iceland

Agnar Freyr Helgason

Abstract


Conventional wisdom suggests that occupational class plays a limited role in explaining vote choice in Iceland. In this paper, we argue that the death of class in Icelandic politics may be premature and that it still plays a role in structuring political preferences and party choice. While the importance of the traditional class cleavage may have declined to the point of irrelevance, we suggest that there is a new type of class voting in Iceland, containing both a vertical and a horizontal component. Furthermore, we argue that the Great Recession played a critical role in increasing the strength of class voting around this new class schema, both because of the conflict around economic issues it generated, but also because of its facilitation of the formation and success of new parties. We test our main hypotheses using multinomial logistic regression on data from the Icelandic National Election Study from 1999 to 2016 and apply a modified measure of cleavage strength, which we refer to as “Full Kappa”. Our results suggest that class voting is alive and well in Iceland and that its strength has increased following the Great Recession.

Keywords


Great Recession; political behavior; class voting; vote choice.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2018.14.3.1

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