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Shaping political identification: the case of Greece in times of crisis

TitleShaping political identification: the case of Greece in times of crisis
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKatsanidou, Alexia
Conference Name3rd European Conference on Comparative Electoral Research
Keywordscleavage, crisis, left-right
Abstract

This study examines the mechanisms by which a deep economic and political crisis affects how people identify with politics. Specifically it explores how the current crisis shapes the content of left-right identification and imposes the existence of a new dimension of political identification. The dynamic nature of left-right identification is activated with issue salience. Salient issues make their way in the left-right schema and in that way enable citizens to navigate the political arena. We theorize that salience is a necessary but not sufficient condition, and we add two more conditions that need to be fulfilled: that of parallel mapping and that of persisting party loyalties.

To test these propositions the study employs the case of Greece, the country hit most severely by the crisis. The Greek case provides a unique combination of conditions that allows us to investigate the impact of a very salient issue on the left-right identification, when the other two conditions are absent. The issue of the economy was the single most important issue in the 2012 Greek elections framed as the bailout dimension: being in favour or against the bail-out agreements between Greece and the Troika (EU Commission, European Central bank, and the IMF).

Using data from the Greek 2012 election the paper examines the content of the left-right identification and that of the bail-out dimension. The findings show that left-right is mainly anchored on socio-cultural issues, while the bail-out dimension is independent from left-right and anchored on socio-economic issues.

The study demonstrates that a society undergoing a severe economic but also political crisis such as the case of Greece does not provide the conditions necessary for smooth political identification. Issues traditionally connected to the left-right identification lose their explanatory power over it. When they become salient again they cannot be absorbed by the, until now all absorbing schema, but force a new dimension of political identification.

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Katsanidou_LRcrisis_TEV2014.pdf174.21 KB