issue voting

issue voting
   The idea that voters make their decision about whom to support on the basis of their assessment of the issue or policy stances of the political parties. In other words, it is a calculated decision based on a rational choice. For issue voting to be a significant influence, voters need to be aware of the issue concerned, have an attitude or opinion about the issue, perceive the parties as having different policies on the issue and, finally, vote for the party whose position on the issue is – or is perceived to be – closest to his or her own viewpoint.
   In the early decades after 1945, voting behaviour was, in Punnett’s words, ‘habitual and ingrained’. Many voters identified with one party – often on the basis of the social class to which they belonged – and tended to maintain that allegiance. Issues did not play a key role, although many people had generalised images of the parties that may have had some policy content. With the development of partisan and class dealignment, voting behaviour is more volatile and liable to be influenced by short-term factors. Issue voting has accordingly become more evident. Franklin and Hughes (1999) found that in elections from 1987 to 1997, issue opinions had become significantly more important than class as determinants of how people vote.
   Further reading: M. Franklin and C. Hughes in G. Evans and P. Norris (eds), Critical Elections: British Parties and Voters in Long-term Perspective, Sage, 1999; R. Punnett, British Government and Politics, Gower, 1971

Glossary of UK Government and Politics . 2013.

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