1 Department of Political Science, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University2 Department of Political Science, Aarhus BSS, Aarhus University
Issue evolution has become a well-established theoretical perspective in the analysis of long-term electoral behavior and partisan alignments in the U.S. after the emergence of the cultural wars. Outside the U.S., however, this perspective has been rarely used to analyze electoral behavior and partisan (re-)alignments. This paper applies the issue evolution perspective to a European multiparty system. I find that the evolution of issues such as immigration or crime has reshaped partisan alignments in Denmark as polarization of new issues on the elite level reshapes partisan alignments. Unlike two party systems, fringe parties act as catalysts of issue evolution on the elite-level which is then followed by mainstream party adaption and the mass electorate realignment. Applying and refining the issue evolution perspective to a multiparty context, this paper therefore demonstrates its analytical validity and usefulness in the analysis of electoral behavior beyond the U.S.-case.