Mapping and Explaining the Use of the Left-Right Divide
Authors: André Freire, Kats Kivistik
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This study is about mapping and explaining the use of the Left-Right divide across 14 countries from 5 Continents and relies on the richness of the post electoral mass surveys from the Comparative National Election Project: 14 countries and 18 elections spread over 5 continents. The paper shows not only how extensively the LR divide is used in these 14 countries, but also explains variation across both individuals and countries in terms of the factors determining LR recognition and use. Overall, it is shown that, although seen world-wide, the LR divide (both for self-placement and party placement) is more present in long consolidated and middle-aged democracies and countries with freer media systems than in new democracies and societies with less free media systems. In the case of parties LR placement, party size also counts: larger parties are more easily placed. Additionally, we also show that LR recognition is more socially and politically determined in long consolidated and middle-aged democracies and in countries with more freedom of the press than in new democracies and in systems with less free media system. These findings add to the existing knowledge about these topics because previous studies were either country/Continent specific, or, if global in nature, never invested in explaining individual and system variation across 14 from 5 Continents. Besides, these findings mean that in the long term probably the new democracies will converge with the long consolidated or middle-aged ones, but this is an empirical question to be researched in future studies.