The Rise and Fall of Social Democracy, 1918-2017

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Abstract

We describe the electoral history of one of Europe's most successful party families over the past 100 years in 31 countries. With a unique and newly collected dataset of national election results and a large number of economic and social variables measured for each country-election observation, we find that two main factors drive the electoral performance of social democratic parties: public-sector spending and the size of the manufacturing sector. Our findings suggest that most of the fall in support for social democratic parties in recent years is correlated with a decline in the number of industrial workers as well as a reduction in the propensity of social democratic parties' core supporters (industrial workers and public-sector employees) to vote for them.

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Benedetto, G., Hix, S., & Mastrorocco, N. (2020). The Rise and Fall of Social Democracy, 1918-2017. American Political Science Review, 114(3), 928–939. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055420000234

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