The purpose of this paper is to analyze if the left-right scales across eight Western European countries offer comparable citizen issue attitudes’ interval measure. Countries included in the research include Italy, Denmark, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Britain, Germany, and Ireland. The two juxtaposed views of left-right self-placement that are commonly known include the theory which considers issue attitudes as the main element of the left-right self-placement, and another theory which considers partisanship as the most important element of the left-right self-placement, and accordingly suggests that countries having different party systems types assign different meanings to the left-right scales.
In the first test of the left-right scale, the ideological polarization was compared with the extreme parties’ issues polarization in each country. Data showed that substantial ideological polarization was exhibited by the parties based in Italy, Denmark, and France whereas moderate ideological polarization was shown by Belgium and Netherlands. On the other hand, the “two-party” countries including Great Britain, Germany, and Ireland showed minimal ideological polarization. The extent to which the parties are ideologically polarized in general shows their extent of issues polarization. Italy, Denmark, and France having substantial ideological polarization are the very countries having the most polarized issues both economic and non-economic, though Italy’s issues polarization only partly accounts for the substantial ideological polarization of Italy. The extent to which it is ideologically polarized also speaks of the level of issues polarization in many countries including the Netherlands, Ireland, Great Britain, and Germany, although the Labor and the Conservative parties of Great Britain are more polarized on economic issues than they are depolarized on the non-economic issues.
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