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Potentially Voting across the Divide in Deeply Divided Places: Ethnic Catch-All Voting in Consociational Northern Ireland

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Abstract

I elaborate a model of cross-bloc party support in deeply divided places. The model expects that the variation in the level of electoral support that citizens in Community A have for parties in Community B is a function of citizens' evaluations of the relative ability of parties in Community B to represent the interests of all communities. This ‘ethnic catch-all’ model of cross-bloc party support is tested in the context of consociational Northern Ireland, using data from a representative survey conducted directly after the 2010 Westminster general election. The findings are asymmetric: the model explains Protestant support for nationalist parties but not Catholic support for unionist parties. The findings, and their implications, are discussed.

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