From Party Politics
The left-right dimension is widely used by voters and parties as a ‘super-issue’ with flexible, varying meaning. Hence, it is important to know how voters place parties on the left-right dimension. Despite the widespread use of left and right in politics by voters, parties and the media, we know little about where voter perceptions of parties’left-right positions come from and how this varies across parties, countries and time.
Hypotheses are tested in this study using voter survey data of the European Election Study (EES) linked to party data from the 2014 CHES. The analysis is based on 190 parties from 28 countries. The dependent variable is respondents’ perceived party policy position on a 0–10 left-right scale. The findings suggest that voters adapt their perceptions of party policy positions on the left-right dimension based on the importance of the underlying policy conflicts. Similar to their own left-right position voters adjust their perceptions of party policy positions to the issues raised in the party system.
The left-right dimension is widely used by voters and parties as a ‘super-issue’ with flexible, varying meaning. Hence, it is important to know how voters place parties on the left-right dimension. It is argued on this paper that voters infer left-right party positions from their positions on two key ideological subdimensions: economic and cultural issues. However, a subdimension should influence party placements on the left-right dimension more if the subdimension is important (1) to the party and (2) in the party system as a whole. In aggregate-level models using voter data from the 2014 European Election Study and party data from the 2014 Chapel Hill Expert Survey, we show that perceived left-right position of a party reflects in particular party positions on issue dimensions that are (1) more important to the party and (2) more salient in the party system. This finding provides insight into the sources of voter perceptions and has wider implications for our understanding of party competition, as we show how parties’ salience strategies can have consequences for position-based ideological perceptions and voting decisions.
Perceptions of parties’ left-right positions
The impact of salience strategies
Thomas M Meyer , Markus Wagner ,
First Published October 22, 2018 Research Article