Acta Politica

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 193–213 | Cite as

The relationship between issues and an individual’s left–right orientation

Original Article


The major body of the literature about left–right orientation finds that values and attitudes determine an individual’s position in the left–right dimension. Regarding values, it is assumed that these are stable over (a long period of) time, and hence affect individuals’ left–right orientation. Attitudes are usually measured as issue preferences, which can change over time, cross-nationally and also in their importance for people. Therefore, the relationship between issues and left–right orientation is less clear, and requires more research. We argue and show with data from the European Social Survey Implementing a Panel Component project (2012), conducted in the Netherlands, that the relationship between issue preferences and left–right orientation is conditioned by the importance that people give to the respective issues. Issues that are important for people affect their left–right orientation, while they can use their left–right orientation to form an opinion about an issue which they do not consider important.


left–right orientation issues multi-group structural equation modelling correction for measurement error 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology, Universitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain

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