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The Mass Perceptions of Left and Right in New Democracies Explained by Cultural and Institutional Indicators

Kats Kivistik
University of Tartu
Kats Kivistik
University of Tartu
Open Panel

Abstract

The Left-Right ideological dimension is among the most common tools for comparing political parties and mass beliefs across (democratic) societies all over the world. It is usually assumed that the use of a simplifying Left-Right dimension facilitates political communication by enabling parties to transmit information on policy and issues, and decreases the costs of voting for individuals by giving them an orientation tool. Most comparative research on Left and Right concentrates on Western Europe, and to a lesser extent on Eastern Europe. Comparative research that includes new democracies from different regions and with different precedent regimes is rare. This is the gap in the current research I will try to fill in. My paper attempts to answer to the following questions by concentrating on macro indicators like cultural and institutional factors: How does public understanding of ideological labels develop in democratic societies and why does it differ across countries? To be more precise: Does the capability of individuals to locate themselves on the Left-Right scale increase in new democracies over time and if the capability to locate oneself varies across populations, then which factors explain the level of ideological capability? Whether and how the average position on the Left-Right scale among a country’s population varies contingently on precedent regime type and on other factors (religion, cultural attributes, economic conditions, nature of regime change, etc.)? Which are the main values and attitudes that contribute into the Left-Right divide and which are the factors that are related to the differences in Left-Right value structure among the new democracies? For my study I will use World Values Survey database and techniques like factor analysis, SEM and QCA.