A paper entitled "On the Distinctiveness of Party Families" was presented at the 2014 General Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association. In this paper I describe the average positions (and the development of these) of the party families commonly known in the comparative study of European parties. In this paper I distinguish between three major political dimensions:

  1. Economic Left-Right
  2. Traditionalist vs. Permissive
  3. Authoritarian vs. Libertarian (in the European sense of the latter term!)

The average positions of the party families can be nicely summarised by a picture (which as often, says more than scores of words):

Average Positions of European Party Families (Posterior Distribution reconstructed from CMP Data and the Spatial Model of Coded Political Texts)

While one can discern typical positions of various parties (consider e.g. the position of the christian democratic parties on the traditionalist-permissive axis), these position also show some change of the time from 1945 to 2010. For example, social democratic parties show a clear centrist course on the economic left-right dimension not seen by many other party families.

Development of Party Families on the Economic Left-Right Axis
Trajectories of Party Families on the Economic Left-Right Axis

But there is also some movement on the other dimensions as well. One can see movement on both other examined political dimensions: the traditionalist-permissive and the authoritarian-libertarian axis.

Trajectories of Party Families on the Traditionalist-Permissive Axis
Trajectories of Party Families on the Authoritarian-Libertarian Axis