Arto Kekkonen & Tuomas Ylä-Anttila
Affective blocs: Understanding affective polarization in multiparty systems
Research has suggested that affective polarization (AP)—the extent to which partisans view each other as a disliked out-group—has increased, especially in two-party political systems such as in the US. The understanding of AP in multiparty systems remains limited. We study AP in Finland, characterized by a strong multiparty system and a low level of ideological polarization, between 2007 and 2019. We find that AP has increased, driven mainly by voters evaluating their least favorite party more negatively. We also propose an approach that goes beyond earlier literature, which has mostly used a single aggregate metric to measure AP. Using latent profile analysis, we find that voters are grouped into blocs that view some parties positively and others negatively. This suggests that the complex dynamics of AP in multiparty democracies involve relationships between not just individual parties but between what we call affective blocs that span across party lines.