Dimensionality, Contexts, and Ideological Congruence between Parties and Voters

Stream: Panel 91 - Comparative Politics: Representation, Party Systems and Electoral Systems 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.00 pm


To what extent does the presence of multiple important issue dimensions shape how voters perceive party ideological positions? How does the complexity of political space affect representation and democratic linkages between citizens and politicians? Whereas many researchers have analyzed the effect of electoral rules and party systems on ideological congruence in one main policy dimension, we know much less about how the complexity of issue dimensionality affects citizens’ perception of party positions and perceptions of left and right. In this paper, we argue that complex issue dimensionality as well as institutional characteristics influence citizens’ recognition of party policy positions. To examine this hypothesis, we investigate the nature of left-right placement of political parties in Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) data in depth. First, by using multidimensional scaling, we reveal the latent dimensions behind individual survey responses in each country and quantify how the importance of hidden ideological dimension varies across countries. Second, we use Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey Scaling, which corrects individual DIF errors in left-right placement, to estimate the accuracy of party policy positions commonly perceived by voters. By comparing the positions of party supporters and the overall party positions, we can calculate the gap between party positions and their supporters. We then use a hierarchical model analysis of the individual-level data allows us to determine how the context of high issue dimensionality can widen the gap between parties and voters. These findings elucidate the causal mechanisms behind how both institutions and ideological structures shape party competition and democratic representation.


Royce Carroll, Essex University
I am an Associate Professor of Political Science at Rice University. My research focuses on democratic institutions and the role of representation in the policy-making process, particularly legislative politics and the politics of coalitions within and between political parties. My current research focuses on political parties, the distribution of legislative power and on the spatial analysis of political choices, such as legislative voting and survey data, in the measurement of preferences and ideology.

Hiroki Kubo (Presenter), Osaka University
I am a recent PhD from the Department of Political Science at Rice University and Assistant Professor at Osaka University starting June 2016.  My research interests include comparative political institutions, political parties, electoral systems, and legislative studies, with a regional research specialization in the Asia-Pacific region. My dissertation is entitled ``Organizing Parties in Legislatures: How Elections and Policy Positions Shape Intraparty Politics'' Focusing on contemporary party politics in Japan, Australia, and the US, my research project seeks to understand why and how politicians create, organize and maintain legislative parties.