Uncertainty or Ambiguity? Sources of Variation in Ideological Placements of Political Parties
37 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
In this paper we use CSES data to examine why there is variation in placement of political parties on left-right scales. In particular, we estimate multilevel models to assess the relative contribution of uncertainty and lack of information on the part of citizen-respondents, specific features of individual political parties, and the institutional designs of the various electoral systems as contributors to variability observed in citizen placement of the parties. Because lack of information on the part of the citizens may be revealed through failure to respond to the ideological scale questions or through random components to actual placements, we develop models that include assessments of both types of responses to reduce bias from considering only one source. We find that all three types of variables are relevant to understanding variation in perceptions of party positions. Finally, we demonstrate that uncertainty and variation have important consequences for the evaluation of political parties.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation