The left-right dimension in the minds of Icelandic voters 1987-2009

Hulda Þórisdóttir

Abstract



The left-right political dimension represents a powerful and parsimonious way to describe political ideology. The right is usually seen as standing for tradition and acceptance of inequality, whereas the left advocates progress and economic redistribution. This study reports an analysis of the left-right scale in the minds of Icelandic voters, using data from the Icelandic National Election Studies from 1987-2009. Findings indicate that the vast majority of respondents are willing to place themselves on the left-right scale, and that they have become increasingly willing to do so since 1987. The average political orientation of Icelanders has consistently been just right of centre, with a moderate dip in 2009. The possibility of political polarization and sorting is considered, and ultimately rejected, based on analyses of the distribution of left-right scores for the entire sample and for subgroups defined by political party affiliation and demographics. Lastly, the contextual nature of the left-right dimension is examined by looking at the relationship over time between attitudes towards six political issues and left-right self-placement. The overarching picture that emerges from this study is that of a stable, well-defined left-right political landscape in the minds of Icelandic voters.

Keywords


Political orientation; left-right dimension; Icelandic National Election Studies Introduction.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.13177/irpa.a.2012.8.2.1

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