Basic personal values and political choice
Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Croatia
Modern politics has become increasingly personalized as the individual characteristics of voters, particularly their basic personal values, become decisive for political choice – replacing traditional group interests as the crucial grounding of ideology. An abundant literature reports relations of values to political attitudes and choice. People are inclined to vote for parties whose leaders and policies they perceive as likely to promote or protect the attainment of their own important values. Conversely, they are inclined to vote against those they perceive as likely to frustrate or block the attainment and preservation of the values they cherish. Basic value priorities, through their influence on core political values and on perceptions of candidates and party platforms, can help us understand individual differences in political opinions and attitudes. However, value priorities that are likely to influence political attitudes and behavior are sensitive to the issues prominent in the social milieu. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze what the political choices in the specific sociopolitical context imply for the particular values. The present work examines the role of voters' personal values in their political choice, using the Schwartz (1992) theory of basic personal values. Controlling for some basic demographic variables (age, gender, income and education), the relative contribution of personal values to political choice is assessed, using data from 1130 voters for the major political parties in the Croatian national election of 2007. Hypotheses about the relations between values and political preferences are based on the implications for value attainment of policy differences between the political parties and coalitions. Results show that supporters of the major political parties differ in values largely as hypothesized.