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Three Decades of Religious Vote in Europe

Guillermo Cordero
From the journal World Political Science


The social sciences have often claimed the end of religiosity as one explanation for electoral behaviour in Europe. Nevertheless, left and right parties still incorporate religious and moral issues on the agenda in order to distance themselves from their opponents. This article undertakes a comparative study of 34 European democracies and examines the extent to which religious voting has diminished since the eighties. Results point to a sharp decline in the levels of religious vote until the nineties, followed by a revitalization since that time in a third of the countries included in the sample. The analysis also highlights the important role played by the political elite in activating the religious vote.


Asociacion Espanola de Ciencia Politica y de la Administracion (AECPA).


Table A.1:

Country-Level Characteristics.

Economic polarizationaMoral polarizationaMain religious denominationb
Czech Republic19.45.9Catholic
East GermanyProtestant
West Germany12.110.8Mixed
Great Britain9.84.1Mixed
Northern IrelandMixed
Slovak Republic21.210.4Catholic

  1. aSource: Party Manifestos Project. See Laver and Budge (1992) for more details.

  2. bSource: EVS (2008).

Table A.2:

Linear Regression on the Ideology of the Party Voted (with Control Variables), by Country, 2008.

West GermanyEast GermanyAustriaBelgiumBulgariaCroatiaDenmarkSlovak RepublicSloveniaSpainEstoniaFinland
Sociodemographic variables
 Gender (ref: man)0.150.40*0.49**0.35**0.220.38**0.65**−**0.060.21
Religious practice
 Weekly church attendance−0.350.300.12−0.010.490.37*0.450.200.37**0.160.32−0.14
 Praying frequency0.090.24−0.32−0.30*−0.45*−0.08−0.060.49*−0.1−0.27*0.48**−0.01
Religious denomination
 Life after death0.070.54−−−0.12−0.01
Individual religiosity
 Importance of God in life0.020.030.11**−0.10**0.010.06−0.02−0.060.01−0.02−0.020.00
 Importance of religion in life0.020.150.56**−0.280.370.47**−
West GermanyEast GermanyAustriaBelgiumBulgariaCroatiaDenmarkSlovak RepublicSloveniaSpainEstoniaFinland
Trust in religious institutions0.170.39−**0.24*0.060.47**0.81**−0.02−0.02
Sociodemographic variables
 Gender (ref: man)0.100.56**−0.04−0.150.66**0.31**−0.04−0.090.55*0.07−0.20−0.14
Religious practice
 Weekly church attendance0.50*0.39*0.220.29*0.540.02−0.050.330.09−0.12−0.130.46*
 Praying frequency−0.09−0.320.13−0.33−0.26−0.01−0.48**0.12−−0.04
Religious denomination
 Life after death0.020.23−0.110.36*−0.070.12−0.160.15−0.0−0.190.71**−0.11
Individual religiosity
 Importance of God in life−−0.01−0.07*−0.010.07−0.01
 Importance of religion in life0.000.230.01−0.14−0.230.40*0.02−0.200.350.18−0.410.10
Trust in religious institutions0.200.78**0.27*0.130.340.140.26−0.22−0.2−0.67**−0.390.04
NorwayNetherl.PolandPortugalCzech RepublicGreat BritainRomaniaRussiaSerbiaSwedenSwitzerl.Ukraine
Sociodemographic variables
 Gender (ref: man)0.95**0.33**−0.090.04−0.170.15−0.04−0.56**0.360.42*0.80**0.01
Religious practice
 Weekly church attendance−−0.120.01−0.050.03−0.14−0.060.23
 Praying frequency−0.46−0.45**−0.200.33−0.06−0.140.420.00−0.2−0.180.01−0.16
Religious denomination
NorwayNetherl.PolandPortugalCzech RepublicGreat BritainRomaniaRussiaSerbiaSwedenSwitzerl.Ukraine
 Life after death0.56*−0.090.310.090.120.11−0.19−0.36−0.1−0.20−0.17−0.17
Individual religiosity
 Importance of God in life0.07−**−0.03−0.09**−−0.060.03−0.03
 Importance of religion in life−0.57−0.20−0.25−0.370.300.140.24−0.190.41−0.43−0.11−0.22
Trust in religious institutions0.280.210.53**0.54*0.04−0.100.03−0.080.47*0.45*−0.160.11

  1. Source: EVS (2008).

  2. *Statistically Significant at 0.05. **Statistically Significant at 0.05.

  3. Standard Errors Not Included for the Lack of Simplicity. Results Upon Request.


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Published Online: 2017-4-28
Published in Print: 2017-4-25

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