Who Still Likes Social Democracy? The Support Base of Social Democratic Parties Reconsidered

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My article “Who still likes social democracy? The support base of social democratic parties reconsidered” co-authored with Line Rennwald was just published by Party Politics. The article is open access and available here.


Social democratic parties have experienced a profound electoral crisis in recent years. We study who still supports the centre-left by analysing two different ties to social democracy: vote choice and party identification. We develop a simple typology, which categorises voters into ‘core supporters’, ‘distant supporters’, ‘demobilised supporters’ and ‘non-supporters’. While demobilised supporters still identify with social democratic parties but do not vote for them, distant supporters vote for social democratic parties but do not identify with them. Based on data from the European Social Survey, we then show that working-class voters are more likely to be demobilised supporters than middle-class voters, whereas distant voters are a heterogeneous group. Union membership as well as more pro-redistribution and pro-immigration attitudes are positively correlated with being a core supporter. This helps us to re-evaluate the support base of social democratic parties and contribute to a better understanding of their current electoral crisis.