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Party Positions or Party Direction? An Analysis of Party Manifesto Data

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The use of the party manifesto data (PMD) to identify parties' position in the political space provides a rather distorted picture of the Italian party system. Three possible explanations for this are explored, namely that the Italian party system is exceptional, that there are flaws in the data and there might be flaws in the methodology. The article argues that none of these explanations is fully satisfactory and advances the hypothesis that the PMD left–right scores do not indicate parties' positions but instead indicate parties' direction, that is how (and how much) parties move to adjust to changing political conditions and to remain competitive. Statistical analyses, performed to test the validity of the directional interpretation of the left–right scores, support this new interpretation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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