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Social Policy Preferences and Party Choice in the 2011 Swiss Elections
Swiss Political Science Review
A previous version of this paper was presented at the Swiss Elections Workshop in Solothurn 24-25 October 2013, and at the annual conference of the Swiss Political Science Association in Berne 30-31 January 2014.
To what extent do social policy preferences explain party choice? This question has received little attention over the past years, because the bulk of the literature has argued that electoral choice is increasingly shaped by identity-based attitudes, rather than by preferences for economic-distributive social policies. We argue that in the wake of this debate, the significance of social policy preferences for electoral choice has been underestimated, because most contributions neglect social policy debates that are specific to post-industrial societies. In particular, they merely focus on income redistribution, while neglecting distributive conflicts around social investment. The Selects 2011 data allows investigating this crucial distinction for Switzerland. Our empirical analyses confirm that it is pivotal to take the pluridimensionality of distributive conflicts seriously: when looking at preferences for social investment rather than income redistribution, we find that social policy preferences are significant explanatory factors for the choice of the five major Swiss political parties.
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