Generational replacement

Engine of electoral change

Authored by: Wouter van der Brug , Mark N. Franklin

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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Generational replacement is one of the most important drivers of social and political change. This is because values and voting habits are acquired early in life and then remain relatively stable over time. The older people become, the more they tend to get “set in their ways” (Franklin 2004) and the less likely they are to change their habits, basic values and attitudes. Political events thus exert the strongest impact on the youngest voters who are not yet “set in their ways.” To the extent that political attitudes and behavioral habits are acquired early in life during the most “formative years,” 1 and remain stable afterwards, generational replacement is the main driver of change. It works a bit like a diesel engine. It has a slow start, but continues to run for a long time.

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