The Challenges of Conceptualisation, Dimensionality and Validity: Towards a New Approach in Measuring Left and Right Through MARPOR Data
LUISS Guido Carli University, Italy
The persistence or retrenchment of left-right semantics came to the forefront of political and academic debates in recent decades; a period of deep transformations, with profound impacts on domestic and international politics in Europe and beyond. Amongst these, the contemporary rise of populist parties is often linked to a waning of traditional cleavages and the emergence of new faultlines along which political conflict is structured, especially vis-à-vis globalisation. All of this makes the conversation surrounding the measurement of left and right through the main source of supply-side data within electoral studies, the Manifesto Project (henceforth MARPOR), particularly timely. This paper constructs and validates new deductive left-right indexes based on the data provided by the MARPOR. It does so in answering the research questions about whether existing MARPOR-based left-right instruments (a) adequately conceptualise left and right, and (b) provide valid measurements of these concepts. Performing statistical analyses on MARPOR data, it shows that the already available tools fail these tests. This is primarily because of their continued assumption of a unidimensional left-right axis of party competition. Hence, this paper advances the necessity of elaborating a new method for the construction of deductive MARPOR-based left-right indexes, which openly acknowledges and addresses the question of the dimensionality of the ideological space. Informed by several contributions, it advocates separating the left-right space, which is in turn part of a multidimensional issue space, into two distinct axes: an economic and a cultural one. Consequently, it develops a method for the construction of deductive left-right indexes based on the MARPOR. In this procedure, a more explicit process of theory-based conceptualisation allows researchers to execute an exclusively deductive aggregation of the MARPOR items that constitute the two, economic and cultural, left-right indexes for a given timeframe. Furthermore, this paper practically applies this method by deriving both MARPOR-based deductive left-right indexes pertaining to the context of Western Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall (1990-2019). It thus presents empirical validation analyses on a MARPOR dataset comprising 21 Western European party systems within this timeframe. Methodologically, these probes include statistical techniques such as principal factor analysis, Pearson correlation coefficient and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test for sampling adequacy. These examinations return satisfactory validity scores by the classic standards of the discipline. Moreover, they especially illustrate the capacity of the deductive left-right indexes to successfully unpack the multidimensionality of the ideological space; a task unfulfilled by established and widely employed alternatives.
From Democratization to Populism: Explaining the rise and resilience of illiberal populism in Central Europe
Columbia University, USA, United States of America
How does voter support for populist parties change from the time they are in opposition to the time they govern their country? We test three explanations – based on three perceptions of insecurity – 1) ontological, 2) economic, and 3) cultural insecurity. We focus on two major governing populist parties in Europe - Fidesz in Hungary and Law and Justice in Poland and use data from the European Social Survey from 2004 to 2018. We contribute to the literature on global populism by examining the evolution of populist voter support. We find that economic insecurity is the most significant driver of voter support for populists, but the relationship reverses its sign once such parties are in power. While cultural insecurity also fuels support for populists, its significance diminishes when populists are in office. Lastly, ontological insecurity begins to matter primarily after populists have assumed power.
Changing Contexts and Revising Rhetoric: The Legitimization of the Rassemblement National
1Georgia Southern University, United States of America; 2Roanoke College, United States of America
Marine Le Pen, the party leader of the Rassemblement National (RN), made it to the second round of the French presidential elections in Spring 2017 and earned 33.9% of the vote. While she failed to defeat Emmanuel Macron and win the presidency, it was a clear signal that the RN had gained legitimacy as a viable political party. What has led to the recent legitimization of the RN in France and to what extent do these events signal a significant shift in French politics? We argue that the recent crises in the European Union (EU) made far-right issues politically salient thereby drawing the attention of voters. Simultaneously, Marine Le Pen has moderated the rhetorical tone of the RN’s party platform thereby making it more populist in nature and thus more attractive to a wider range of voters. As such, the RN has become a more serious contender in French politics.
Populist ‘Othering’ Of Ukrainian Immigrants In Poland: Discourse And Context
Jagiellonian University, Poland
This paper studies the phenomenon of ‘othering’ as an element of right-wing populism on the case of Ukrainian immigrants in contemporary Poland. The empirical analysis explores the supply side of populist ‘othering’. It analyses the discourse of populist radical right parties (PRRP) in Poland, with a particular focus on the governing party, Law and Justice (PiS), as an archetypal radical right-wing populist party and currently most successful in Poland. The data is collected around two points in time. Firstly, aiming to capture the right-wing turn in politics, I zero in on the 2015 parliamentary election campaign, which is also when the right-wing anti-migrant discourse was most salient. Then, in order to gain perspective and a comparative angle, I analyse discourse during the 2019 parliamentary election campaign. I conduct Critical Discourse Analysis (using Ruth Wodak and Martin Reisigl’s analytical framework) of the selected texts and visuals from the parties' official websites and Twitter accounts of their prominent members. In my analysis, I am looking for ‘othering’ strategies employed by populists, deconstructing them and analysing the contexts and purposes of their usage. This case study is entrenched within a broader theoretical attempt to build a model of ‘othering’ that could help further understand the reasons and rhetorical instruments behind right-wing populists’ successes in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
How Parties Framed Immigration during the Refugee Crisis?: Evidence from the Individual Level in Central Europe
Institute of International Relation Prague, Czech Republic
There is extensive research investigating framing of immigration in the media, particularly focusing on Western Europe, but scholars recently started to focus on Central and Eastern Europe too. This literature generally documents that the media employ several main frames – from the economic, through security, humanitarian, and administrative to victimisation – whose prevalence varies over time, media outlets, countries and following real-world events. Less research focuses on how political actors frame immigration, often using media data as a source to examine how framing of immigration differs across parties and time. There is yet less research, and practically none on Central and Eastern Europe, that would investigate how political parties frame immigration in an unmediated manner. By focusing on the framing of immigration in plenary speeches in the Czech and Slovak parliaments between 2013 and 2017 (N = 1643), we try to fill those gaps in the literature. We not only show that administrative and security framing was dominant overall during the analysed period, but also that framing is context-dependent and it changes in response to evolving events in the region. The regression analyses show that the use of frames by parliamentarians is related to a) party characteristics (placement on the left-right and GAL-TAN dimensions, government/opposition status), b) individual-level characteristics (gender, age, and immigrant background) and c) characteristics of immigrants referred to in a speech (region of origin, religious background, and legal status). While centre-left parties were more likely to frame refugees and migrants in terms of humanitarian frame, security-based framing was significant in all parties’ speeches. Moreover, radical right and populist parties were more likely than others to frame refuges in terms of cultural-threat/nativist frame. This paper contributes to the scholarly debate on the refugee crisis, showing how the immigration issue can impact on domestic party politics.