Geographical conflict in the political landscape: A tale of two dimensions.

International trends suggest that geography is once again becoming an important factor in electoral dynamics. Phenomena as dissimilar as the election of Trump, Brexit and Gilets jaunes have all been characterized as rebellions of the periphery against the center. In this article, Marta Rekdal Eidheim and Anne Lise Fimreite use data from the Norwegian Citizen Panel to examine the role of geographical cleavages in Norwegian politics today.

Fimreite og Eidheim
Facsimile from idunn.no, Professor Anne Lise Fimreite and PhD Candidate, Marta Rekdal Eidheim, Comparative Politics, UiB.

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In this article we study geographical and territorial cleavages in Norwegian politics in a context where 1) as a result of technological and communicational developments, citizens seem to live closer to each other than ever and 2) structural reforms with significant territorial consequences dominate the national political agenda. In the article we investigate how these cleavages affect Norwegian voters in 2019. Our analyzes are twofold: We analyze what we call geographical political dissatisfaction (measured here through the response to the statement: «In their policy-making, central authorities are not sufficiently aware of the district areas» in the Citizen Panel in 2019) and how geographical factors affect voting. We analyze geography along two dimensions: a center-periphery dimension and an urban-rural dimension. Based on the analyses we argue that geographical cleavages are still alive (and even kicking) in Norwegian politics. Our aim in the article is to understand these dimensions and the political dissatisfaction connected to geography, but we also want to elaborate on how we can scrutinize this further in years to come.

The open access article is available in Norwegian here.