Working paper
Open access

Union Membership and Electoral Demand for Redistribution among Left-authoritarians

Number of pages58
Publication date2023-02-27
First online date2023-02-27

Against the background of rising income inequality, this paper examines the role of trade unions

in sustaining electoral demand for redistribution. We focus on the ability of trade unions to

translate their members’ pro-redistribution preferences into pro-redistribution voting, despite

the widespread presence of anti-immigration attitudes among union members and the

population at large. We argue that union members are less likely to realign their vote choice

with their preferences on cultural issues and more likely to choose a party aligned with their

pro-redistribution preferences than non-members. Using data from the Inequality and Politics

survey from 2020, we analyze the association between union membership and left voting (capturing

roughly pro-redistribution voting) in fourteen democracies. Employing unique questions

on union membership, we leverage variation in the political orientation of the trade unions in

line with literature emphasizing heterogeneity in the “union effect”. We find that it matters

whether individuals are affiliated with confederations rooted in the socialist labor movement.

The paper contributes to the literature on the politics of inequality by showing how de-unionization

matters. It also speaks to the literature on “working-class populism” by highlighting the

importance of intermediary organizations for political behaviour.

  • European Commission - Unequal Democracies [741538]
Citation (ISO format)
RENNWALD, Line, MOSIMANN, Nadja. Union Membership and Electoral Demand for Redistribution among Left-authoritarians. 2023
Main files (1)
Working paper
  • PID : unige:167367

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