Group Appeals of Parties in Times of Economic and Identity Conflicts and Realignment

Polit Stud (Oxf). 2024 May;72(2):463-485. doi: 10.1177/00323217221123147. Epub 2022 Sep 24.


Party-group relations are today characterized by various forms of alignments. These include the persistence of traditional class alignments, the realignment of economic groups due to identity politics and alignments of groups at the centre of identity politics. This study analyses the group-based messaging of parties in relation to these three groups. We argue that, contrary to the catch-all party thesis, positive and negative group appeals of parties are (still) structured by parties' support among social groups and by groups either liked or disliked by their voters. Our argument is tested through a content analysis of election materials in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, combined with survey data. The results indicate that group appeals are indeed shaped by electoral support among social groups and attitudes towards them. Results also suggest that the former effect is present for traditionally aligned economic and identity politics groups, but not for realigned economic groups.

Keywords: cleavages; group appeals; parties; political communication; realignment.