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.
The last decades have seen a process of partisan dealignment in many countries as voters become less connected to their political 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 their 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.
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.
It contributes to partisan dealignment 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.
- Hermann Schmitt. "Partisanship in nine western democracies." Political Parties and Partisanship: Social Identity and Individual Attitudes. Routledge. (11 June 2014). pp. 75. ISBN 978-1-134-04428-3.