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Estimating Uncertainty in Party Policy Positions Using the Confrontational Approach*

  • Tom Louwerse and Huib Pellikaan


This research note extends the confrontational approach to estimating party policy positions by providing a way to estimate uncertainty associated with the measurements. The confrontational approach is a flexible method of determining party policy positions, which is ideally suited to measure parties’ positions on issues that are specific to a country or period in time. We introduce a method of estimating the uncertainty of confrontational estimates by restating the approach as a special case of an item response theory, opening up the possibility of using the confrontational approach not only as a descriptive tool but also as a means of testing hypotheses on party policy preferences. We illustrate our model using analysis of the 2010 Dutch parliamentary election and the 2009 European elections.



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Tom Louwerse, Assistant Professor in Political Science, Department of Political Science, Trinity College Dublin, 3 College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland. ( Huib Pellikaan, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK, Leiden, the Netherlands. The authors thank Franzisca Zanker for her research assistance in coding the European manifestos. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Politicologenetmaal, the Annual Meeting of Dutch and Flemish political scientists, 9 June 2011, in Amsterdam. The authors thank the participants for their useful comments. The authors also thank Will Lowe for his suggestions in an early stage of this project, as well as the two anonymous reviewers. All remaining errors are, of course, the authors’ own.



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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
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