Environmentalism as an independent dimension of political preferences

John Kenny, Peter Egge Langsæther

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Environmental issues are an important aspect of party competition and voters’ political preferences. Yet political behaviour research often considers environmental attitudes as a component of a broader ‘second-dimension’ and either subsumes it into this or omits it. Using data from the fifth wave of the European Values Study, we demonstrate through factor analysis that environmentalism loads as a separate dimension across Western Europe, that environmentalism has somewhat different social predictors and that it has important associations with party preference that differ from those of other second dimension issues. Our findings have crucial implications. Firstly, not accounting for environmentalism in studies of political behaviour misses an important part of the picture. Secondly, subsuming environmentalism into a broader ‘cultural’ dimension may lead to incomplete conclusions about both social predictors and the electoral consequences of political attitudes and values. Thus, allowing for a separate environmental dimension opens up novel perspectives on political representation in Western democracies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Early online date14 Aug 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2022


  • Political dimensions
  • Environmental attitudes
  • Political values
  • Western Europe
  • political parties

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