Matthias Enggist has just started a position as postdoc at the Centre LIVES at the University of Lausanne where he is affiliated with Daniel Oesch and will contribute to the FNS project “Unequal shifts in regions’ job structures”. Simultaneously, he continues until the end of the year to be a postdoc at the Department of Political Science at the University of Zürich, where he has earlier this year defended his dissertation entitled “Welfare Politics in a Context of 2nd Dimension Salience” supervised by Silja Häusermann. His research interests lie in the fields of public opinion, party competition, welfare politics and immigration. He has published in the Journal of European Public Policy, in the European Journal of Political Research and in West European Politics.
Faced with structural change, changing electorates and the strengthening of political competitors such as green or radical right parties, social democratic parties all over Europe are struggling to find a future-oriented profile accounting for their traditional goals of social balance and inclusion as well as winning them elections. Although electoral losses of the SP/PS were less dramatic than those of many other social democratic parties in Western Europe, the future orientation of the SP/PS and which voter groups it should target primarily is being fiercely fought over and publicly debated. To give an empirical basis to these debates, we tackle questions such as: Who votes for the SP/PS today and why? Who does not or no longer? What programmatic options does the SP/PS have and which of them could prove electorally successful (and with whom)? To what degree is the situation of the Swiss SP/PS comparable to its sister parties in other West European countries?
Showing selected findings from a forthcoming book (“Wählerschaft und Perspektiven der Sozialdemokratie in der Schweiz”; in German; with Silja Häusermann, Tarik Abou-Chadi, Reto Bürgisser, Nadja Mosimann, Reto Mitteregger and Delia Zollinger) based on both original as well as openly accessible and established data (Selects, ESS), we demonstrate that the SP/PS has become most successful among the well-educated middle classes as well as among urban and older voters. Looking at vote switching since the mid-1990s, we find that voters turning their back on SP/PS have mostly gone to the green party, whereas losses to right-wing parties were and are very small – thus debunking the myth of substantial vote switching between SP/PS and SVP/UDC. Moreover, our analyses show that both left-wing economic positions as well as progressive positions on issues such as immigration and European integration strongly predict voting for the SP/PS. Looking at which programmatic positions would prove popular in their potential electorate (i.e. including people who consider voting for the SP/PS but do not) we find culturally progressive positions to generate most approval for the SP/PS but do not find any evidence that turning centrist or adopting left-nationalist positions are electorally promising strategies for SP/PS.
En collaboration avec le LAGAPE et l’OVPR.