Distinguishing welfare state reform and income redistribution: A two-dimensional approach to the Dutch voter space on economic issues

Simon Otjes*

*Corresponding author for this work

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There is growing evidence that voter and party positions on economic items do not conform to a left-right dimension. This article proposes that in Northern Eurozone states voter policy positions on economic issues are characterized by two dimensions: A redistribution dimension that consists out of views on income equality and a reform dimension that divides those who favour reform of the welfare state to ensure its long-term sustainability and those who oppose such reforms because they would hurt those who need the welfare state now. It examines to what extent voters positions on economic issues conform this two-dimensional pattern, employing the 2012 Dutch Election Survey; to what extent positions on these dimensions reflects voters' attitudes on other issues and demographic characteristics; and to what extent these two dimensions help to understand voting behaviour. It shows that indeed a multidimensional approach to economic issues is justified; that voters who oppose reforms are characterized by higher levels of Euroscepticism; and that this reform dimension helps to understand voting behaviour, in particular preferences for the socialist, social-democratic and social-liberal party.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-576
Number of pages14
JournalParty Politics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2018


  • economic issues
  • European integration
  • political space
  • public opinion
  • the Netherlands

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