The Left-Right Scale : An analysis of its connection to preferences on economic issues
Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with the nature of the Left-Right scale. Theories and ideas about the Left-Right scale have been tested by a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods. The research questions are, in short, firstly if voters’ preferences on political issues, where economic issues are tested in this specific thesis, can consistently explain voters’ Left-Right self-placement, secondly if this level of explanation can vary depending on changes in national political discourse, and finally if a high level of correlation between issue and Left-Right self-placement facilitates the matching process of parties and voters of similar ideological conviction. A regression is run on data from the World Values Survey and the European Values Study, data which consists of survey questions about attitudes towards economic preferences and self-placement on the Left-Right scale. The selection is restricted to old democracies, as there is some discrepancy between new and old democracies with regards to the capacity of the electorate to relate to the Left-Right scale. The independent variable in this regression is attitudes toward different economic issues, while the dependent variable is self-placement on the Left-Right scale. The first question is answered by the regression, which is if preferences regarding issues can explain self-placement on the Left-Right scale. The answer that is given is that there is indeed a consistent relationship between preferences on economic issues and self-placement on the Left-Right scale, over time. Albeit it is higher for some countries, like Scandinavia, and lower for other countries, like Japan and Ireland. The two remaining questions are answered by case studies, selected through the method of least likely and most likely cases. These are Netherlands, Sweden, Japan and France. In essence, these cases show that the Left-Right scale is indeed flexible, and can adapt to the current political discourse, and that a high relationship between preferences on political issues and self-placement on the Left-Right scale facilitates the matching of voters and parties of similar ideological conviction.
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