The UK's changing party system: The prospects for a party realignment at Westminster

by David Sanders

04 May 2017
Digital Object Identifier

Full text posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 5, pp. 91-124.

Abstract: The paper examines the main changes in the UK party system that have occurred in recent decades. It focuses on the decline of party identification and class-based voting, and the unintended consequences of decisions made by political elites. It analyses the fragmentation of contemporary UK political opinion and describes the emergence of a new set of ‘political tribes’ that cut across old left–right party loyalties, taking particular note of the growth of Authoritarian Populism sentiment. It concludes that a major realignment of the UK party system is already underway and that the changes set in train by past elite decisions and changing public perceptions are likely to continue.

Keywords: party systems, party fragmentation, party identification, class-based voting, Authoritarian Populism.

Lecture in Politics and Government, subsequently read on 4 July 2017 (audio recording)

Sign up to our email newsletters