The role of regional context in voting

Evidence from the 1992 British general election

Charles Pattie*, Ron Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent British General Election results have produced an increasingly distinct regional geography of the vote, with the Conservatives performing well in the south of the country and Labour doing so in the north. However, accounting for this geography has proved controversial. Some analysts suggest that where voters live has become increasingly important in influencing how they vote. In this model, voters pick up political cues from their local contexts which may lead them to reassess their political allegiances. But this view is not universally accepted; other analysts argue that it is mainly individual factors (including class, background and personal circumstances) which affect voters' decisions. For them, any apparent regional effect is an artefact of the tendency for people from similar backgrounds to live in similar areas. In this paper we reassess the evidence. By analysing data from the 1992 British Election Study (BES), we show that regional context is indeed an important feature of British voting behaviour. Far from being an artefact, it is an important influence on voters' political thinking at a variety of levels, from their political attitudes and ideologies through to their votes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-263
Number of pages15
JournalRegional Studies
Volume32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Keywords

  • British voting
  • Contextual effects
  • Regional economic prospects

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