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Detlef Jahn, Conceptualizing Left and Right in comparative politics: Towards a deductive approach," Party Politics, 17 (November, 2011), 745-765. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
The major category in comparative political analysis in highly industrialized societies is the distinction between Left and Right positions. Parties' and governments' ideological positions on a Left-Right scale are the major variables for the explanation of party competition, coalition-building and policy outcomes. Since programmatic positions are different in various countries and change over time, we need a country- and time-sensitive measure. This measure can be drawn from party documents which are published on a regular basis (e.g. election manifestos). Even though party manifestos are not written to inform citizens about a party's position on a Left-Right dimension, but rather to accommodate strategic challenges in order to win an election (Laver, 2001), they can be used to deduce a party's underlying ideological position. In order to do so, the selection and evaluation of statements that may constitute a Left-Right index is of utmost importance.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Core Left-Right statements
Figure 1. Derived stimulus configuration plot (Euclidean distance model)
Table 2. Correlations between different Left-Right indices and importance of the Left-Right dimension
Figure 2. Parties in a two-dimensional space with different saliencies

Last Paragraph:
(First paragraph of conclusions) The Left-Right ideological dimension is fundamental to a vast body of empirical and theoretical research in party politics, policymaking and democratic processes. In this article, we have examined the only current data to measure Left-Right positions over a long time span and across a wide range of countries, but discovered some shortcomings with established Left-Right indices, shortcomings that we have tried to overcome with our LR index

Last updated December 2011