What is Left and Right? What real politicians think

Marcelo Jenny, Wolfgang Claudius Müller

Left’ and ‘right’ are key terms in both political speech and political science analysis. The ubiquity of the terms’ use is not matched by clearness about their contents. While a wealth of research exists on the location of political parties and individuals on the left–right scale the conceptual rooting of these placements is not always clear. Studies interested in the nature of ‘left’ and ‘right’ most often study the correlations between left–right placements of individuals and their attitudes concerning issues generally considered to be related to these terms. Only few studies have tried to unravel individual beliefs about ‘left’ and ‘right’ without such theoretical priors and even fewer studies have gone beyond college students or voters as respondents. We analyse the written answers to an open survey question of candidates in three consecutive national elections in Austria (2006, 2008, 2013).

Institut für Staatswissenschaft
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ÖFOS 2012
506013 Politische Theorie
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