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Placing radical right parties in political space: Four methods applied to the case of the Sweden Democrats
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Political Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4717-6842
2013 (English)Report (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Within political science, there are numerous methodological approaches to estimating the policy positions of political actors. Such methods are often used to examine party systems as a whole, but little research has been done on testing them in the context of parties that deviate from the political mainstream, such as populist radical right (PRR) parties. This study evaluates four common approaches, (1) expert surveys, (2) manual content analysis, (3) dictionary-based content analysis, and (4) Wordfish, by applying them to the PRR party the Sweden Democrats. Election manifestos, being considered the most authoritative statements of official party policy, are used as the empirical basis of the content analyses. Results show an overall high degree of convergent validity along economic and socio-cultural policy dimensions, but also suggest an advantage for the more qualitative methods 1 and 2, as the frequency-based methods (3 and 4) face problems with the context-dependence of words, linguistic volatility and data scarcity on issues of low salience, difficulties that are related to the characteristics of the Sweden Democrats. Manual content analysis and expert surveys do not face these issues, but instead need to deal with reliability and bias. If the former compensates by averaging multiple codings and the latter focuses on clearly defined policy-specific dimensions, these two methods – ideally in combination – are more appropriate than frequency-based approaches in the analysis of parties similar to the Sweden Democrats.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola , 2013. , 38 p.
PESO Research Reports, 1:2013
Keyword [en]
Radical right; Populism; Policy positions; Expert Survey; Content analysis; Wordfish
National Category
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-20326OAI: diva2:672578
Available from: 2013-12-03 Created: 2013-12-03 Last updated: 2014-06-26

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Backlund, Anders
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