Book Project: "How States Create Electoral Cleavages: Government Policies and New Voter Coalitions"

The book project, tentatively titled “How States Create Electoral Cleavages: Government Policies and New Voter Coalitions,” develops and tests a new theory of ethnic cleavage formation. Scholars have explained the emergence of an ethnic dimension in party systems as the result of institutions, mass organizations, and elite initiatives. These factors, however, can evolve in response to an emerging ethnic coalition of voters. The book advances a new theory that ethnic cleavages emerge when voters seek to form a parliamentary opposition to government policies that create grievances along ethnic identities. I test the theory on rare cases of government policies in Prussia, Bavaria, and Belgium in the 19th and 20th centuries that aggrieved voters but were not based on existing policies or initiated instrumentally to encourage ethnic competition. I show through process-tracing and statistical analysis of electoral returns that co-ethnics began to vote together when they were aggrieved by policies. The book will contribute to the literature on identity and voting, party formation, party system formation and change, party politics, religion and politics, the politics of language and regionalism, electoral dynamics in 19th century Western Europe, and offer insights into the recent changes in contemporary party systems.