Inequality and Party Support: Positional Economic Voting or a New Dimension of Valence?


Economic growth helps governments get re-elected. But does growth, as a valence issue, exhaust the possibilities for the economic vote? This paper shows, via an examination of 318 elections in established democracies, across time and space, that growth and inequality both matter for incumbent government support. Somewhat surprisingly, it is found that both left- and right-wing incumbents are held accountable for changes in inequality, suggesting that inequality, even if a positional economic policy issue, can affect the vote in a valence way, at least at the macro-level. Further, these effects appear unaltered by structural factors such as federalism or the electoral system.

This content has been updated on 8 September 2019 at 22 h 20 min.