Date: December 1996
Creator: Ho, Karl Ka-yiu
Description: This dissertation surveys electoral change in Great Britain during the period between 1979 and 1996. It analyzes the long-term factors and the short-term dynamics underlying the evolution of three aspects of the electorate: party identification, voting intentions and party support in inter-election periods. Drawing on cross-sectional and panel data from the British Election Studies and public opinion polls, I investigate the impacts of long-term socialization and short-term perceptions on voters' political decisions. I hypothesize that, over the last four elections, perceptual factors such as evaluations of party leaders and issues, particularly economic concerns, emerged as the major forces that account for the volatility in electoral behavior in Britain. Accordingly, this study is divided into three sections: Part I probes into the evolution in party identification across age cohorts and social classes as illustrated in trends in partisanship. Part II focuses on changes in voting intentions as affected by perceptual factors and party identification. Part III investigates the public's support for governing parties by analyzing the dynamics of aggregate party support during inter-election periods.
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