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Institutional Context, Cognitive Resources and Party Attachments Across Democracies

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This paper develops and tests arguments about how national-level social and institutional factors shape the propensity of individuals to form attachments to political parties. Our tests employ a two-step estimation procedure that has attractive properties when there is a binary dependent variable in the first stage and when the number of second-level units is relatively small. We find that voters are most likely to form party attachments when group identities are salient and complimentary. We also find that institutions that assist voters in retrospectively evaluating parties—specifically, strong party discipline and few parties in government—increase partisanship. These institutions matter most for those individuals with the fewest cognitive resources, measured here by education.

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