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Riccardo Pelizzo, "Party Direction: The Italian Case in Comparative Perspective," Party Politics, 16 (January, 2010), 51-67. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol16/issue1/.]

First paragraph:
Party Manifesto Data (PMD) have been used for almost three decades in estimating party positions in the political space. Recent studies (Klingemann et al., 2006), however, point out that while left-right scores estimated on the basis of party manifestos provide generally precise estimates of where parties are located in political space, there are some exceptions to the general trend. In respect of these anomalies, the literature has developed in different directions. Some scholars (Benoit and Laver, 2007; Laver et al., 2003) have developed new methodologies for estimating party positions in political space. Others have suggested, as Budge (2006) also noted, that left-right scores estimated on the basis of the party manifesto do not always indicate the party position, but rather party direction (Franzmann and Kaiser, 2006; Pelizzo, 2003). Left-right scores reflect parties' attempts to modify their image, to seek the median mandate (McDonald and Budge, 2005) and to maximize electoral returns.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Correlation of perceived party positions (sig.)
Table 2. Changes in perceived party positions
Table 3. Changes in perceived party positions
Table 4. Determinants of perceived party positions
Table 5. Determinants of perceived party positions
Table 6. PMD and shifts in perceived party positions

Last Paragraph:
The results of our data analysis sustain the claim that parties' ability to change their perceived position is related to party age. By doing so, this article has not only shown whether parties are successful in modifying how they are perceived but also the conditions (no party history, weak identity, limited voters' knowledge) under which they are able to do so. The data at our disposal and the analyses that I have conducted in this article do not allow me to speculate as to whether my conclusions will be corroborated by further analyses. But, regardless of whether my conclusions will or will not be supported by further research, I have no doubt that the reason parties succeed in modifying their perceived positions is a question worth investigating as it may provide party scholars with a better understanding of the relationship between parties and voters.

Last updated January 2010