Finally Rising with the Tide? Gender and the Vote in the 2019 British Elections

Rosie Campbell, Rosalind Shorrocks

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When it comes to gender and voting behaviour Britain had become something of an outlier. Whilst more countries shifted along Inglehart and Norris’ ‘rising tide’ continuum from traditional gender gaps, to realignment, into modern gender gaps (Inglehart and Norris 2000, 2003), Britain remained at the realignment stage. But in 2017 a modern gender gap emerged with a greater proportion of women than men voting for Labour, and a greater proportion of men than women voting Conservative. In this paper we examine the 2019 European Parliament and General elections to assess whether the modern gender gap persists in Britain. We show that whilst in the 2019 General election we again observed a modern gender gap, it nevertheless is rooted in the specifics of the political context in Britain, specifically post-EU referendum cleavages. Moreover, the gender gaps in the European Parliament election reveal a more nuanced picture, and demonstrate how the electoral context shapes the gender vote gaps we see. Our results indicate that the presence of the modern gender gap in Britain is contingent, rather than the result of long-term realignment, as well as provide evidence for key processes that may cause gender gaps to vary across time and space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-507
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2021


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