Party Images and Voting Choice: 1966
THE fact that Unionist hegemony in Belfast rests on genuine majority support rather than electoral sharp practice shifts our explanatory concern one stage back from the distribution of votes cast to the motivations behind these votes. In turn this shift implies a change in the main type of evidence considered, from aggregate, historical voting statistics to contemporary survey responses. What we learn about motivations from the answers made to us in 1966 is of course strictly time-bound. We cannot extrapolate backwards to the reasons for voting Unionist in the Depression years between the wars, nor to the springs of Unionist support during the pre-war struggle for Irish independence. Nevertheless, the motivations which reveal themselves in the 1960s are affected by the historical developments reviewed in the foregoing chapters and may in turn provide insights to aid interpretation of these developments. And contemporary motivations do relate most immediately to the development of the contemporary crisis; for whatever historical influences are present can act only through their effects on current motivations.
KeywordsChurch Attendance Welfare Policy Local Election Party Identification Vote Choice
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- 2.Doubts have been increasingly expressed as to how far ‘party identification’ in Britain, ascertained on the question ‘Do you usually think of yourself as (party)?’, are anything more than expressions of current voting intention. On the argument advanced in the text this does not matter for our purposes. Cf. D. Butler and D. E. Stokes, Political Change in Britain, (London, 1969), pp. 40–43.Google Scholar