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Title: Whose party? Whose interests? : childcare policy, electoral imperative and organisational reform within the US Democrats, Australian Labor Party and Britain's New Labour
Author: Henehan, Kathleen
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 7099
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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The US Democrats, Australian Labor Party and British Labour Party adopted the issue of childcare assistance for middle-income families as both a campaign and as a legislative issue decades apart from one and other, despite similar rates of female employment. The varied timing of parties’ policy adoption is also uncorrelated with labour shortages, union density and female trade union membership. However, it is correlated with two politically-charged factors: first, each party adopted childcare policy as their rate of ‘organised female labour mobilisation’ (union density interacted with female trade union membership) reached its country-level peak; second, each party adopted the issue within the broader context of post-industrial electoral change, when shifts in both class and gender-based party-voter linkages dictated that the centre-left could no longer win elections by focusing largely on a male, blue-collar base. Were these parties driven to promote childcare in response to the changing needs of their traditional affiliates (unions), or was policy adoption an outcome of autonomous party elites in search of a new electoral constituency? Using both qualitative and quantitative techniques, this research analyses the correlates of policy adoption and the specific mechanisms through which party position change on the issue took place (e.g. legislator conversion versus legislator turnover). It finds that parties largely adopted the issue as a means to make strategic electoral appeals to higher-educated, post-materialist and in particular, female voters. However, the speed in which they were able to make these appeals (and hence, the time at which they adopted the issue) was contingent on the speed in which elites were able to reform their party’s internal organisation and specifically, wrest power away from both the unions and rank-and-file members in order to centralise decision making power on election campaigns, executive appointments and candidate selection processes into the hands of the leadership.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JF Political institutions (General)