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Who Speaks for the Poor?
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    Who Speaks for the Poor?
    • Online ISBN: 9781108304382
    • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108304382
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Book description

Who Speaks for the Poor? explains why parties represent some groups and not others. This book focuses attention on the electoral geography of income, and how it has changed over time, to account for cross-national differences in the political and partisan representation of low-income voters. Jusko develops a general theory of new party formation that shows how changes in the geographic distribution of groups across electoral districts create opportunities for new parties to enter elections, especially where changes favor groups previously excluded from local partisan networks. Empirical evidence is drawn first from a broadly comparative analysis of all new party entry and then from a series of historical case studies, each focusing on the strategic entry incentives of new low-income peoples' parties. Jusko offers a new explanation for the absence of a low-income people's party in the USA and a more general account of political inequality in contemporary democratic societies.

Reviews

‘This elegant and audacious book is a must-read for anyone interested in the topic of democratic representation. Jusko advances a novel theory of party formation and deploys this theory to explain why it is that low-income citizens are better represented in some democracies than in others. The representation of low-income citizens depends crucially on their distribution across electoral districts. This compelling argument is supported by quantitative comparative analyses and historical case studies of Britain, Canada, Sweden and the US. The book sheds new light on American exceptionalism and brings out intriguing similarities between agrarian-populist and labor-based (social democratic) parties. Jusko's historical data on the electoral geography of income should be an inspiration to us all.'

Jonas Pontusson - Université de Genève

'This book addresses an enduring question in an entirely novel way. It fixes the identity of the group so that it is independent of prior political mobilization. This enables the isolation of opportunities for agency by party elites as distinct from demand. Its analysis of microdata from old, difficult-of-access sources is a model of care, attention to detail, and methodological originality. The implications of the study are profound: for representation in general as well as of the poor, for persistence and change in party system patterns, and for the pivotal role of party elites.'

Richard Johnston - Canada Research Chair in Public Opinion, Elections, and Representation, The University of British Columbia

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