Book manuscript: "How States Create Electoral Cleavages: Government Policies, New Voter Coalitions, and Party System Change"
My completed book manuscript, which is based on a dissertation that won the Ernst B. Haas award from the European Politics and Society section of APSA, offers a new theory of electoral cleavage formation. Scholars have explained the emergence of an identity-based dimension in party competition as the result of institutions, mass organizations, and the initiatives of political entrepreneurs. The direction of causality, however, can be reversed as these factors can evolve in response to an emerging coalition of voters. The book advances a new theory that voters, not entrepreneurs, drive electoral coordination around shared identities and that voters are responding to government policies that cause them grievances because of their identity. Political entrepreneurs, who organize around the new emerging coalition of voters, mange to mobilize a large number of voters around a shared identity because voters are responding to the policies, not to the entrepreneurs.
I test this argument on rare cases of government policies in Prussia, Bavaria, Belgium, and Israel in the 19th and 20th centuries that aggrieved voters but were not based on existing policies nor were they initiated instrumentally by entrepreneurs to encourage electoral competition around identity. I show through process-tracing and statistical analysis of electoral returns that voters began to vote together based on their shared identity when they were aggrieved by government policies. In addition to the contributions to the ethnic politics literature and to research on political cleavages, the new theory has implications for understanding the origins of new parties, party system stability and change, and the formation of new identity groups.