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John Huber and Ronald Inglehart, "Expert Interpretations of Party Space and Party Locations in 42 Societies," Party Politics , 1 (January, 1995), 73-111.

First Paragraph:
Party competition tends to create one central ideological dimension of political discourse that organizes political conflict and shapes connections between citizens and political parties. The tool generally used to describe this central dimension of political conflict in advanced industrial democracies has been the left-right ideological continuum. The language of' 'left' and 'right' captures a variety of salient issues that help citizens and elites alike make sense of the political landscape. Consequently, scholars have expended considerable energies analyzing the substantive content of the left-right ideology (see Converse and Pierce, 1986; Huber, 1989; Inglehart, 1984, 1989; Inglehart and Klingemann, 1976; Sani and Sartori, 1983) and developing innovative methodologies for estimating party positions in a left-right issue space (see the discussion in Laver and Schofield, 1990:Appendix B). These studies have not only been important to our understanding of the meaning of left-right ideology, but also to developing and testing theories on such diverse and important issues as political representation(Converse and Pierce, 1986; Dalton, 1985; Huber and Powell, 1994), coalition formation (Axelrod, 1970; Laver and Budge, 1992), government spending priorities(Castles, 1982) and party competition (Budge and Farlie, 1977; Macdonald et al., 1991; Robertson, 1976).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: The 10 categories used for analyzing the substantive content of the left-right scales.
Table 2: Noise in the survey responses.
Table 3: The content of left-right ideology (%).
Table 4: The most important left-right issue categories in each country.

Last Paragraph:
By 1993, relatively clear party space dimensions seem to have emerged in the newly established democracies. Among expert observers on all six inhabited continents, there is a widespread tendency to see political conflict as structured along only one dominant dimension, and to label this dimension as having left and right poles. The underlying meaning of left and right, however, varies from one society to another. In almost all countries, there is a strong linkage between the left-right axis and conflict over economic issues, but the specific issues involved have shifted from nationalization and control of industry to privatization and deregulation. Moreover, there is a great diversity of other interpretations. In non-democratic societies and newly democratic societies, the left-right axis is relatively likely to reflect the polarization between authoritarian versus democratic forces, or questions of national identity. And in a handful of established democracies, only a minority of the definitions offered for left and right involved the traditional terminology of class conflict; new politics issues have emerged as salient rivals. The left-right dimension, then, can be found almost wherever political parties exist, but it as an amorphous vessel whose meaning varies in systematic ways with the underlying political and economic conditions in a given society.