Attitudinal Ambivalence on Redistribution: Causes and Electoral Implications Across Europe

Alon Yakter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


While support for redistribution remains high across Europe, voting for left-wing parties, traditionally identified with this agenda, has been under par. Past research explains this puzzle by class-based disagreements about redistributive priorities and by second-dimension attitudes. These explanations, however, assume coherent voter preferences reacting to structural changes. By contrast, I argue that part of the puzzle also lies in attitudinal ambivalence—simultaneous negative and positive evaluations—regarding redistributive policy. Using cross-sectional public opinion and party position data, I find that such ambivalence increases with lower political sophistication, greater value conflict, and weaker economic need. Electorally, it deepens detachment between support for redistribution and left-wing self-identification and increases voting for more economically and culturally right-wing parties. These patterns hold independently of class differences and second-dimension attitudes and replicate stably in earlier data. The findings contribute to ongoing debates about attitude structures and voting patterns and illuminate an additional challenge for economically progressive parties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1662
Number of pages32
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • ambivalence
  • attitudes
  • european politics
  • political economy
  • political psychology
  • public opinion
  • redistribution
  • voting behavior


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