Voting Behaviour in the UK : ..

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In a future perspective, we need to highlight this common element, to many countries, of electoral apathy and disillusion towards mainstream political parties. Another point is the fact that young people do not base their vote anymore on traditional social identities related to the class cleavage; and this makes their voting behavior even less predictable than those of older generations and young people in the past. On the one hand this open the electoral market, as political parties should aim at getting the vote of this section of the electorate that is also the most willing to move from one vote choice to another. Yet at the same time, it might be a problem, because as we have noticed lately, this provides for a further increase in electoral volatility, strongly impacting on the stability of European political systems. That being said, there is an optimistic element, too. There exist factors that can shape the vote choice, even among young generations of voters. Left and right (although they mean today something different than in the past), together with the authoritarian-libertarian dimension, are still a determinant for voting choices. Yes, volatility increases but it does within some constraints granted by these factors and others which may arise in the future. So there still exist something that doesn’t make the vote choice completely unpredictable. As for Italy, we saw how disillusion and disengagement patterns are the same as for other countries. And on the other side, the most interested in politics among young people are the most radicals, too and they tend to vote radical parties both on the left and on the right. In the last few years we saw the affirmation of the M5S (Five-Star Movement) which defines itself as neither leftist nor rightist, indeed as something going beyond this dimension, and as an anti-establishment movement-party, instead of as moderate party. This might make it attractive to young generations who feel alienated towards mainstream parties – and as a matter of fact is quite popular among them. So in the end, for what concerns young people’s vote choices, we cannot say yet whether it is a matter of age-effect or of generation-effect. And given the fact that their vote is such a volatile one, we will probably be able to find an answer to this question only in a few years.

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UK Prime Ministers may declare war without the support of Parliament but Blairclearly believed that a supportive Commons vote was necessary to help him to persuade thecountry at large of the necessity of war.

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Well, generally speaking were expecting, according to Inglehart’s post-materialist theory, greater differences between young and adult people in terms of voting determinants. Actually there are many similarities, too. Such a traditional socio-demographic variable like church attendance maintains its weight also when it comes to young people’s vote choice, as well as the distance between parties and electors on the left-right axis and the authoritarian-libertarian dimension are important to understand both young and adult people’s voting behavior. To this extent we cannot talk about a proper generational gap. According to Inglehart, during the end of the 60s new post-materialist values emerged, which would have increasingly characterized new generations, distinguishing them from the older ones marked by materialist values. As for the sample of young people I have analyzed, the post-materialism index, that assesses those post-materialist values, appears to be significant only in Sweden, and in general only in 1981 – which is not a mere coincidence, since in that year the post-68 generation still belongs to the young people category (18-35 years old). So it actually proves that there is a specific political generation, namely that which those politically socialized between the 60s and the 70s belong to; whereas for the generations who came after, post-materialist values cease to be significant voting determinants.

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