The decline of the working-class vote, the reconfiguration of the welfare support coalition and consequences for the welfare state

The central political claim of Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism is that class actors, through the instruments of the democratic process, can modify capitalism. Where working-class mobilization is strong, left parties have sufficient electoral support in the political arena to alter markets politically in ways that decommodify and thereby empower workers. The decline of traditional class voting, however, has profoundly changed this dynamic of welfare politics. We show that the political support coalition for welfare states has been reconfigured through two processes. On the one hand, the Left may have lost support among the traditional working class, but it has substituted this decline by attracting substantial electoral support among specific parts of the expanding middle class. On the other hand, the welfare support coalition has been stabilized through increasing support for the welfare state among right-wing political parties. We discuss the possible consequences of this ‘middle-class shift’ in the welfare support coalition in terms of policy consequences.

– The Journal of European Social Policy

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