Partisan voting in the Spanish 1986 NATO referendum: An ecological analysis

Carles Boix, James Alt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In order to fulfil promises made during Spain's 1982 general election campaign, the Socialist government eventually held a referendum in 1986 to decide the question of Spanish integration into NATO. Contrary to its traditional opposition to NATO, the Socialists now favoured retaining the military alliance. Since no post-referendum surveys are available from which to estimate the referendum choices made by electors of different partisan loyalties, we analyse aggregate data using ecological regression techniques. The results show that the government achieved victory through the support of past socialist voters and some conservatives, with considerable regional variation, while the nationalist voters and almost a third of 1982 socialists voted against NATO. We interpret this as showing that the referendum apparently was mostly a vote on general government policy following stable political cleavages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-32
Number of pages15
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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