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Christoph Arndt, "Social democracy's mobilization of new constituencies: The role of electoral systems," Party Politics, 20 (September, 2014), 778-790. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue5/ ]

First paragraph:
Not least since Kitschelt's seminal book from 1994 have there been attempts to conceptualize new electoral coalitions in times of intensifying globalization, ongoing welfare state recalibration, educational upgrading and service sector expansion (e.g. Häusermann, 2010; Kitschelt, 1994, 1999; Kriesi et al., 2008). It is argued that these processes have shaped new patterns of employment stratification as well as new divisions within the workforce and among the electorate in general (Kriesi et al., 2008; Oesch, 2006a, b; Van de Werfhorst and de Graaf, 2004). In particular, it has been claimed that the increasing heterogeneity of the middle class and the rising importance of high-skilled labour have forced major parties such as social democrats to incorporate the political attitudes and preferences of these voter groups in their electoral appeals (Giddens, 1998; Kitschelt, 1994, 1999).

Table 1. Classification of countries into electoral systems according to Kitschelt
Figure 1. Vote shares among selected classes for three party families.
Table 2. Party affiliation for social democrats relative to left-libertarian and bourgeois parties, 1992-2006 in 11 Western countries.
Table A1. Classification of parties into party families.

Last Paragraph:
(First paragraph of Discussion) The aim of the article was to account for cross-national variation in social democracy's success in mobilizing new electoral constituencies with a new policy mix realized under the Third Way. I argued and demonstrated empirically that the electoral system conditions social democracy's prospects of reaching out to new middle-class target constituencies conceptualized by Kitschelt (1994) and operationalized by Oesch's class scheme. Electoral systems being highly proportional through no or low thresholds confront social democratic parties with highly competitive left-libertarian challengers. Since the latter parties appeal distinctly to the salaried middle class, social democracy has considerable difficulties winning support among these voter segments and is typically outperformed by challengers on the libertarian left. Specifically, socio-cultural specialists are less inclined to vote for social democratic parties if left-libertarians are competitive. This effect increases the more proportional an electoral system is.

Last updated November 2014