Not all social cleavages are the same: On the relationship between religious diversity and party system fragmentation

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    Most studies examining the relationship between social cleavages and party system fragmentation maintain that higher levels of social diversity lead to greater party system fragmentation. However, most aggregate-level studies focus on one type of social cleavage:ethnic diversity. In order to develop a better understanding of how different cleavages impact electoral competition, this paper considers another type of social cleavage: religious diversity.Contrary to previous literature, higher levels of religious diversity provide incentives for cross-religious cooperation, which in turn reduces party system fragmentation. Using a cross national data set of elections from 1946-2011, the results show that, in contrast to most studies examining the effects of social cleavage diversity on the number of parties, higher religious diversity is associated with lower levels of party system fragmentation.



    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages25
    Pages (from-to)364-388
    JournalPolitics and Religion
    Journal publication dateJun 2016
    Issue number2
    Early online date12 Apr 2016
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

    ID: 18371765