Ideology in the European Mass Public: A Dynamic Perspective
43 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 25, 2015
The study of representation, electoral dynamics, and public opinion in Europe requires a scale of the public's latent ideology that is comparable across time and space. However, European public opinion polls rarely include enough questions in a given domain to apply scaling techniques such as IRT models at the individual level. As a result, there are no existing measures of latent ideology in Europe that are based on survey responses. In this paper, we use a Bayesian group-level IRT to develop the first measure of policy ideology that is comparable both across European countries and across time. We found that countries within Europe have become relatively polarized over time, and that patterns of ideology are starkly different across dimensions. We show that our findings are consistent with the previous literature on European public opinion, but correlate poorly with existing uni-dimensional measures of ideology that are not derived from survey data. Taken together, our findings suggest caution in applying uni-dimensional concepts to compare ideology across European countries and regions. Our measures of the mass public's ideology in Europe enable scholars to address a wide variety of substantive questions in comparative politics.
Keywords: idealogy, Europe, IRT model
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