The notion of left versus right pervades the discussion of politics the world over. This use of the terms “left” and “right” began in France itself, during the Revolution. In the 1790s, the deputies of the national legislative assembly regularly grouped themselves physically from left to right across the space of the chamber’s half-circle of seats. These factions – the Jacobins, the Plaine, the Girondins – held different points of view about the proper course of revolutionary action. In the National Convention (1792–3), the pivotal issue was disposition of King Louis XVI (Lewis-Beck, Hildreth, and Spitzer, 1988). During the relevant votes – the six Appels Nominaux – the king’s fate was decided. Take for example the third Appel, addressing his punishment. A majority (361) were for death, a large minority (286) were for imprisonment, and the rest (102) were for some middle position (or did not vote). In this historic ballot on regicide, the deputies declared a policy stance, indicating their position on the issue by where they located themselves in the hall. Since that time, political positions in France have generally been articulated along a leftcenter- right continuum.
KeywordsVote Choice Extreme Left Ideological Center Moderate Left Ideology Variable
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