Friday, November 18, 2005

The grey vote

Yesterday Achim Goerres, a third year PhD student, presented a chapter from his PhD thesis to the comparative politics seminar. He's working on older people's political behaviour and has studied their involvement in protest politics. But his chapter dealt with their voting patterns and their tendency to vote conservative more often than not. He tested the various hypotheses relating to this using data from Germany and Britain. It all pointed to some relationship between the notions of political generations (i.e. the decisions we make as first-time voters having an impact on our voting choices at later elections) and commitment to the status quo as reasons for chossing conservatives over other parties.

The only reservation I had - and which Achim took onboard - was the extent to which he was using the term 'conservative'. The data he showed indicated that older people continually voted Conservative in Britain during the 1980s - yet this was a party that was committed to dismantling the welfare state and ending the status quo. Hardly what one might consider 'conservative' in the conventional sense.

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