Respond To 2 Peer Responses
Cleavage and United Kingdom elections
Peer 1 Sophie
For this weeks discussion board, I chose to read the article “Restructuration of Partisan Politics and the Emergence of a New Cleavage Based on Values” by Hanspeter Kriesi. In this article, the concept behind cleavage is analyzed in-depth and we are able to gain greater insight as to how it plays in modern day European politics. Cleavage is a concept that needs to be distanced from the notion of opposition or conflict because it leads to false understandings and perceptions of the term. Cleavage was first and foremost characterized by a “combination of social-structural, ideological/normative, and behavioral/organizational divisions: ‘the theoretical connotation of the concept of cleavage refers to the combination of interest orientations rooted in social structure, cultural/ideological orientations rooted in normative systems, and behavioral patterns expressed in organizational membership and action’” (Kriesi, 2010). The current impression in contemporary social structures of cleavage is the de-structuring of traditional cleavages and da-alignment of the usual links between social groups and political interest group actors. Kriesi also discusses the promising social structure and attitudinal characteristics as products of party mobilization and demobilization of social segments and not just how they are resources to participate at the individual level.
Kriesi later moves on to discuss the new cleavage based on values. He notes how interaction is far more common amongst people who share similarities with them such as interests or cultures. This has become increasingly true in todays modern day society in which we see that individuals are more common to get along with and support those of their similar ages, social status, gender, etc. This fragmentation of the public sphere into more closed, tight knit groups or more open and broad ones makes up a key mechanism that is significant in the independent structuring of value orientations which play into the emerging cleavage values. The changes in the concept of cleavage should not be linked with that of right/left wing movements and parties. Many new titles have been introduced for these changes such as post-materialist or self-expression survival or even libertarian-universalistic/traditionalist-communitarian cleavage to encapsulate this various changes in the term. As the world progresses these changes will become more apparent in the past, traditional understanding and applications of cleavage.
There are many similarities between Kriesi’s understanding and analysis of cleavage and Gallagher, Laver, and Mair’s. “Cleavage implies much more than your division, more even than an outright conflict, between two sets of people” (Gallagher, Laver, and Mair, 2011, p. 280). Both texts debunk the basic understanding of the term by making clear the importance of disassociation between cleavage and conflict. In the textbook, the organizational terms, the groups involved in the division and their consciousness, and the key social-structural charactersitics that make up the term are highlighted just like in Kriesi’s article which parallel each other. This leads to a greater understanding of the traditional analysis and explanation provided by Laver, Mair, and Gallagher, and the new emerging values that are being seen within cleavage that Kriesi describes. Similarly to the new terms that Kiersi lists, the ones listed in the text as the traditional cleavage structures which consist of the centre-periphery cleavage, the church-state cleavage, the rural-urban cleavage, and the class cleavage. This is directly reflected in the new conceptual understanding and terminologies that would be applied should cleavages continue to mold their values that Kriesi describes.
Hanspeter Kriesi (2010) Restructuration of Partisan Politics and the Emergence of a New Cleavage Based on Values, West European Politics, 33:3, 673-685, DOI: 10.1080/01402381003654726
Gallagher, M., Laver, M., & Mair, P. (2011). Representative Government in Modern Europe (5th Edition). New York: McGraw Hill.
Cleavage and United Kingdom elections
Peer 2 Lisa
United Kingdom 2016
The United Kingdom’s 2016 elections had a tremendous impact on both the UK’s domestic and international policies. As promised during the Conservative Party’s 2015 general election campaign, a Brexit referendum was held on June 23, 2016, giving UK voters the choice of whether or not to leave the European Union (Dommett, 2017, p. 276). Against all polling expectations, 52% of the electorate voted in favor of Brexit, prompting Prime Minister David Cameron, who campaigned to remain in the EU, to resign, at which time the newly elected Conservative Party leader, Theresa May, was elected his successor (Dommett, 2017, p. 279). The seamless process of May taking over as prime minister, underscores how important it is for European countries to always maintain a legal government – especially during times of political uncertainty (Gallagher, 2011, p. 29). Although May, like Cameron, campaigned to remain, she vowed to abide by the will of the Brexiteers, whose political support was secured by the former London mayor, Boris Johnson, as well as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader, Nigel Farage, whose pro-nationalist, anti-immigration campaign was compared to Nazi-era propaganda (Dommett, 2017, p. 277) (Tharoor, 2016). The Brexit campaign’s ability to appeal to members of both the Conservative and Labour Parties was further evidence of the impact that Euroscepticism was having on the UK electorate, with its increasingly hostile message against immigration, as well as its rejection of multiculturalism (Dommett, 2017, p. 275) (Gallagher et al., 2011, pp. 14, 302).
Upon becoming prime minister, May immediately began making changes in the cabinet in order to facilitate the Brexit agenda. Although the appointment of cabinet ministers is one of the most important functions of the prime minister, it becomes an extraordinarily powerful tool when the government is a single-party majority, and a prime minister’s authority to hire and fire cabinet ministers is limited only by the unlikely objections of his or her own party (Gallagher, 2011, p. 419). In order to fully address the Brexit agenda, May created the ministerial positions of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Secretary of State for International Trade, as well as President of the Board of Trade (Dommett, 2017, p. 277). Additionally, as a way of keeping her boisterous adversary, Boris Johnson, as far as possible from the day-to-day workings of Downing Street, May appointed him Foreign Secretary (Dommett, 2017, p. 277). Although May approached parliament on three occasions with her plans to get a Brexit bill passed, her proposals ultimately failed (Hawley, 2022). With Labour refusing to work with May, she was forced to resign, opening the door for Boris Johnson to become prime minister and eventually pass a Brexit bill in January 2020 (Hawley, 2022).
Cleavage and United Kingdom elections
The UK’s 2016 parliamentary and local elections had a significant effect upon the political climate in England, along with the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland. As Wales was the only country outside of England that voted for Brexit, it is not surprising that UKIP won thirteen percent of the vote in Wales, increasing its seats in the Welsh parliament by seven (Dommett, 2017, p. 277). In Scotland, 2016 was the first election cycle when sixteen and seventeen year olds were able to participate and, somewhat surprisingly, the Conservatives gained seats in the Scottish parliament, becoming the second most powerful party, behind the Scottish National Party (SNP) (Dommett, 2017, p. 277). In London, the mayoral seat vacated by Boris Johnson was won by Labour’s Sadiq Khan, with Labour maintaining its twelve out of twenty-five seat dominance in the London Assembly (Dommett, 2017, p. 277). Although Boris Johnson was a very popular Conservative mayor, Labour’s stronghold on London is not surprising as most urban areas tend to favor a left of center political ideology that is more willing to support social programs through a higher tax base.
In addition to the prime ministerial change from Cameron to May, after the Brexit referendum, Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, resigned on July 4, 2016 (Mason, et al., 2016). While it may seem counterintuitive for the leader of a party who just delivered an unexpected victory to his supporters to step down, Farage cited his disinterest in a long-term political career as the reason for his departure (Mason, et al., 2016). In his words he, “came into this struggle … because I wanted [Britain] to be a self-governing nation …” and it is time to take a rest (Mason, et al., 2016). Although Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn was challenged by Owen Smith, he was able to keep his position by securing sixty-two percent of the Labour Party’s vote (Dommett, 2017, p. 280). Overall, the unexpected results of the UK’s 2016 elections indicated that, like the United States, in 2016, a populist movement was gaining momentum beyond the scope of traditional political polling data.