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A Common Left-Right Scale for Voters and Parties in Europe

  • James Lo (a1), Sven-Oliver Proksch (a2) and Thomas Gschwend (a3)
Abstract

This article presents a scaling approach to jointly estimate the locations of voters, parties, and European political groups on a common left-right scale. Although most comparative research assumes that cross-national comparisons of voters and parties are possible, few correct for systematic biases commonly known to exist in surveys or examine whether survey data are comparable across countries. Our scaling method addresses scale perception in surveys and links cross-national surveys through new bridging observations. We apply our approach to the 2009 European Election Survey and demonstrate that the improvement in party estimates that one gains from fixing various survey bias issues is significant. Our scaling strategy provides left-right positions of voters and of 162 political parties, and we demonstrate that variables based on rescaled voter and party positions on the left-right dimension significantly improve the fit of a cross-national vote choice model.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
e-mail: so.proksch@mcgill.ca (corresponding author)
Footnotes
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Authors' note: This article was awarded the 2012 Gosnell Prize for Excellence in Political Methodology. The authors are grateful to Jae Jae Spoon and Ken Benoit for providing replication materials and helpful comments, and to Jonathan Slapin and Catherine de Vries for helpful suggestions. Also, the authors thank Dominic Nyhuis and Steffen Zittlau for excellent research assistance. Previous versions of this article were presented at the PIREDEU Final User Community Conference in Brussels, November 18–19, 2010, the Seminar Series of the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston, December 2010, the Biennial Conference of the European Union Studies Association in Boston, March 3–5, 2011, and at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, April 12–15, 2012. Replication materials are available at the Political Analysis Dataverse, http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/23113 (Lo, Proksch, and Gschwend 2013, Replication data for: A common left-right scale for voters and parties in Europe. http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/23113 IQSS Dataverse Network [Distributor] V1 [Version]).

Footnotes
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