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When parties (also) position themselves: an introduction to the EU Profiler

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  • Alexander H. Trechsel
  • Peter Mair

Abstract

This paper is intended to frame and describe a novel method of political party positioning within the European Union and beyond. Ever since the groundbreaking work by Downs in the 1950s, political scientists have derived a variety of methods to empirically determine the position of parties on dimensions measuring differences in policies or ideologies. Today, two sets of techniques dominate this research domain: expert surveys and manifesto/ programme coding. What is common to both techniques is that the positioning is done by qualified scholars and other experts outside the parties, and that it is not always possible to trace the grounds on which a party was coded in one way rather than another. The EU Profiler project, a large-scale, interdisciplinary and pan-European research endeavour, takes a step beyond these established methods by using party self-positioning and by offering full documentation. That is, and in addition to conventional expert coding, some 300 political parties in Europe have been invited to place themselves on 30 issue dimensions. Moreover, and in so far as it proved possible, each coded position for each party is fully documented with extracts from party manifestos, party leaders' speeches, or relevant press or policy statements. The resulting data offer unique opportunities for comparing the accuracy and efficiency among party positioning techniques, exploring for the first time and in a systematic way the auto-positioning of political parties throughout Europe, and offering close textual documentation for the positions taken on each issue dimension.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander H. Trechsel & Peter Mair, 2009. "When parties (also) position themselves: an introduction to the EU Profiler," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers 65, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:euirsc:p0225
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Simon Hix & GĂ©rard Roland, 2007. "Democratic politics in the European Parliament," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7744, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
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