Dynamics of Change and the Meaning of Left-Right Identifications in Poland 1991-2015

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
WMP Yudowitz Seminar Room 1 (University of Glasgow)
Tadeusz Szawiel , University of Warsaw
The self-placement scale (7, 10, or 11 points) is a standard method of measuring left-right identifications, commonly used in surveys. Its application in Poland indicates that (a) ideological self-identification appear to be a good predictor of voting behavior; (b) ideological self-identification of political parties’ electorates is astonishingly stable over time; (c) perceptions of the placement of political parties along the left-right dimension are also very stable over time: political parties are very consistently perceived in the left-right space by their own electorates, by electorates of other parties, and by the general public.  But “in itself”, the self-placement says nothing on the meaning of “left” and “right”. This paper, drawing on survey and focus group data gathered in 2012, examines social bases of the Left and the Right identifications and explores the connotation of both concepts.  The analysis reveals that majority of those who self-placed themselves on the left-right scale are able to present a consistent substantive description of left or right identifications (their own and their ideological adversaries).  It also reveals that the “center” identification category does not mean “the escape to the center” for those without political views who are unable or unwilling to acknowledge that, but denotes substantive centrist views and attitudes. 
  • Szawiel_Glasgow_CES_Conference_12-14_07_2017.pdf (2.3 MB)