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Author Interview with André Freire

Author of the book: "Left and Right: Meaning and Correlates in New and Long Consolidated Democracies"


1. Please introduce yourself. What would you like your reader to know about you?

My name is André Freire, I am Portuguese, born in Lisbon (the capital of the country), in 1961, and I teach and research in the field of Political Science. Currently, I am Professor in Political Science (PS), Director of the PhD in PS, 2015-present date, and was also Director of the Bachelor Degree in PS, 2009-2015, ISCTE-IUL (University Institute of Lisbon). I am also a researcher Senior researcher at CIES-Iscte (Centre for Sociological Studies and Research), and Director of the Observatory of Democracy and Political Representation (see https://observatorio-democracia.pt/ ), and Research Group «Politics & Citizenship».  I have taught and/or presented conferences as a guest at several Portuguese and foreign universities.
I have been directing and/or participating in several research projects on ideology, electoral behavior, institutions, political reforms, as well as political representation. On these subjects I have been publishing abundantly, nationally and internationally (about 30 books and 100 articles, plus much more numerous book chapters). 
I was a regular columnist for the daily Portuguese newspaper Público,  2006-2016, and I was also a regular columnist for the two weekly newspaper Jornal de  Letras,  2017-2021, in addition to other occasional collaborations in the mass media, and has been an expert and guest consultant for several national and European institutions.
You can know more about my CV, my research, publications, teaching, and civic activities in Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Freire) and my Orcid web page (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5307-6832).

2. What is your inspiration/motivation for writing?

As I told you above, I have several major research interests, one of them is left-right ideology, both at the mass, elite and party levels, its explanatory factors, crucial features and fundamental consequences. About these topics I have wrote many journal articles (ranked in either scopus or web of science, among other data bases) for about 20 years. Thus, when Julia Liszczynska, editor of Eliva Press, invited me to publish with them, I thought it would be interesting to select some of that work on left-right ideology in a coherent and structured book volume. So, I selected 12 pieces to be organized in a volume: leaning upon articles published in a variety of academic journals (Party Politics, International Political Science Review, Pôle Sud – Revue de Science Politique de l’Europe Méridionale, Brazilian Political Science Review, Journal of Political Ideologies, Comparative European Politics, Communist and Post-Communist Studies and Journal of Legislative Studies) and a chapter in a book (Political Representation and Citizenship in Portugal: from Crisis to Renewal) published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2020, I proposed a book manuscript that analyses left-right ideology organized in four parts and 12 chapters, plus the introduction: I - Left and right in consolidated and new democracies (five chapters); II - The meaning and social correlates of left and right (three chapters); III - Left and right in Portugal: voters and parties (two chapters) and; IV - Left and right among citizens and representatives: the Portuguese case (two chapters).  

3. How long did it take to complete your research from the idea to the book?

The time spent was mainly in order to organize the book in a set of coherent and well-structured 12 chapters, plus a new introductory chapter which gives the reader a general overview of the volume, of its coherence, of its novelty vis-à-vis the existent literature on the topic, and the rationale of putting together in a single volume all those articles I have previously published. I believe, like Professor Hermann Schmitt, who wrote one of the book blurbs, that this total set of 12 chapters make up a product where the total is much more than the sum of its parts. On top of selecting the relevant 12 pieces and organizing them in coherent and well-structured volume, I have had to formally edit the diverse pieces. For this latter task I relied both on the help of my research assistant, Viriato Queiroga, and the editorial team at Eliva Press. All in all, these tasks took me around 10-12 months, between the invitation and the printed version was out on amazon, etc.    

4. What's the main message of your book “Left and Right: Meaning and Correlates in New and Long Consolidated Democracies”?

To answer this question, I would underline six major conclusions. First, there is a widespread recognition and heuristic use of the left-right divide across the masses of the (democratic regions and countries of the) globe, although more in long consolidated and more polarized polities than in new and less polarized democracies. Second, across time the new democracies tend to converge with long consolidate ones, in terms of aggregate levels of mass recognition and heuristic use of the left-right divide, although more in more polarized and in more informed polities. Third, different types of authoritarian legacies and/or different types of partisan alliances during crucial times of the democratic transitions do have an impact on the way the common citizens use of the left-right divide to cope with political complexity and arrive at political decisions, namely voting. Fourth, the left-right divide has multidimensional correlates as a dimension of identification, and unidimensional (mainly socioeconomic) as a dimension of competition. Fifth, the left-right divide has different meanings and correlates due to different legacies, historical and political contexts. Sixth, both elites and masses recognize and use heuristically  the left-right divide, although former have more structured and abstract conceptions of the divide than the latter.      

5. What was the most unexpected conclusion you came up with during your research?

First, the widespread recognition and heuristic use of the left-right divide across the masses (and elites) of the (democratic regions and countries of the) globe, although with variable levels, and diverse meanings and correlates. Second, the flexibility of the left-right divide to accommodate diverse meanings and correlates according to different historical, social and political contexts, both across time and space, which is also a major reason for its longevity since the French Revolution, both in Europe and elsewhere.   

6. How would you describe your publishing experience with Eliva Press in a few words?

I found a very helpful and professional team at Eliva Press, it was good to work with them. Moreover, complying with time schedules is clearly an axiomatic value at Eliva Press, and this is a very professional element in book production.


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