The Lipset Thesis

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Scholars, however, have shown what everyone in politics knows instinctively: Unions are also political organizations that, under the right circumstances, can powerfully channel the working-class vote. And unions have been profoundly weakened by changes in the American economic structure, and by decades of assaults against them by the Republican Party.

A classic study on this subject was done by the sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset. In the post-World War II era, one in three American workers belonged to a union; now it’s down to one in 10.

As the figure shows, within Africa, there is little evidence that wealth and poverty are correlated with levels of electoral integrity.

Thus, failed contests include oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, along with poor Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

If development is the root cause of the problem, then electoral malpractices such as coercion, vote-buying and fraud can be expected to be particularly severe in the poorest societies in Africa. It gathers assessments from over 2,000 experts to evaluate the integrity of all 180 national parliamentary and presidential contests held between July 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015 in 139 countries worldwide, and it generates an overall 100-point Perceptions of Electoral Integrity (PEI) index.

Contests are further classified into flawed contests (those scoring 40-49 on the 100-point scale) and failed elections (those scoring less than 40).

March’s elections were not the worst recent ones on the African continent, by any means.

Rigged elections are important because they can reinforce the legitimacy of corrupt and repressive leaders and solidify their hold on power.

Trump — if only the American labor movement weren’t a shell of its former self.

When we think about unions, what typically come to mind are interest groups concerned with wages, benefits and working conditions.


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