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Mapping the Unknown Terrain: Party Policy Mapping in Electoral Authoritarian Regimes

  • Michael Wahman
Publiceringsår: 2009
Språk: Engelska
Dokumenttyp: Konferensbidrag


Oppositional pre-electoral coalition formation has, in a number of recent studies, been proven

to have an important effect on the prospects for liberalizing electoral outcomes in

authoritarian elections. Despite this recent recognition of oppositional coalitions as a trigger

for democratization, almost nothing is known about when these coalitions are formed. An

important explanation for the lack of cross-national large-N studies on this issue is the lack of

sufficient data on party policy positions, among parties operating within these authoritarian

systems. Policy differences between oppositional parties have been hypothesized to have a

negative effect on the prospects for coalitions in the more studied Western democratic

systems. In order to perform an exhaustive investigation of the prospects for oppositional

coalitions in authoritarian elections, sufficient data on party policy differences would

therefore be necessary.

In this paper different strategies for party policy mapping is presented and assessed as

methods for approximating policy distance between parties in authoritarian regimes. It is

argued that a voter-based policy mapping (VPM) approach is the best strategy for this task,

when considering both feasibility and validity aspects. In the later part of this paper an

empirical comparison is performes between approximations made by VPM and the widely

used Manifesto Research Group (MRG), using data for parties that contested post-communist

authoritarian elections in the period 1990-2004. The comparison shows a significant

correlation between the data produced with these two different strategies. Moreover, more

qualitative comparisons of widely divergent cases in the VPM and MRG data, and a

comparison with expert-survey data suggest that the VPM data is at least as reliable as the

MRG data, in this particular context.


  • Political Science
  • elections
  • authoritarianism
  • Manifesto Research Group
  • expert surveys
  • Policy-mapping
  • Voter-based policy mapping


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