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Dealignment, in political science, is a trend or process whereby a large portion of the electorate abandons its previous partisan affiliation, without developing a new one to replace it. It is contrasted with realignment.
Many scholars argue that the trends in elections in the United States over the last several decades are best characterized as dealignment. It is also believed the United Kingdom has become dealigned from social class over the past three decades.
Class dealignment is a situation where members of a social class stop aligning themselves in terms of class and believe that they no longer belong to a certain class. An example of this would be if the working class began to view themselves as lower middle class.
Partisan dealignment is quite similar to class dealignment. Partisan dealignment is the process whereby people no longer vote according to their social class (i.e. in the UK, working-class voters voting Conservative or Liberal Democrat instead of Labour). This happens as people lose their traditional class loyalties to a particular party. An example of this would be the Barking and Dagenham results in the 2006 local elections, in which a traditional Labour area voted for the extreme-right British National Party.
Also the term refers to a decline by voters to their political party; that is a decrease in party loyalty and voters becoming less attached to their party. This dealignment shows that short term factors might play a larger role than usual in whether a candidate receives a vote from someone of his party. Several factors can be attributed to partisan dealignment, such as a greater political awareness and socialisation, intensive mass media coverage and decline of deference; disillusionment both with parties and politicians, and most importantly, the poor performance of government.