Party Direction: The Italian Case in Comparative Perspective
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The purpose of this article is to further our understanding of the directional nature of left-right scores. I suggest that a party's ability to modify its perceived position is conditional on whether parties adopt their manifestos to alter their perceived position and on whether voters are persuaded by parties' attempts to relocate in political space. As voters' knowledge of political parties is a major determinant of where parties are perceived to be located, new parties or parties with weak identities are more likely than old parties to modify their perceived positions, and for two reasons: they are neither willing nor able to adopt an identity-based platform and their freedom to move in political space is not constrained by what voters know about them. The results of statistical analyses show that while Italian voters modified their perception of party positions in the light of party manifestos, this was not the case in the other countries under study, where parties had longer histories than their Italian counterparts.
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Comparative Government and Politics