How the 2020 US Democratic candidates compare to politicians around the world

How the 2020 US Democratic candidates compare to politicians around the world
Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Bernie Sanders may find kinship talking politics with Quebec’s nationalist party Bloc Québécois, while Cory Booker and the UK’s Liberal Democrats would see eye-to-eye. As for Buttigieg, he could comfortably hang with Italy’s Forza Italia.

That is according to analysis presented by the Political Compass, a website that attempts to demystify political ideologies. The site doesn’t list its maintainers beyond noting the content is property of Pace News Ltd., but the New York Times says it’s the work of Wayne Brittenden a journalist from the UK. Brittenden hosts Political Compass’s podcast.

Terms like conservative, social democrat, and liberal can be difficult to understand when talking across borders. A politician calling herself conservative in one country might be considered liberal for supporting the same policies in another nation.

However, using data from Political Compass, we can compare them on the same playing field. It maps ideologies of politicians and parties on two axes, one economic and one social.

The scale running left-to-right represents economic positions, whereas the top-to-bottom scale—from authoritarian to libertarian—is reflective of social views. Data for each country is from their most-recent national election. For Canada that was this year, while for New Zealand that is 2017.

While the creators of the Political Compass frequently categorize and analyze the politicians and parties in upcoming elections around the world, the centerpiece of the site is a tool that allows you to place yourself on the political spectrum, too. It can be an illuminating way to understand how your personal politics compare to world leaders both past and present.

According to the site, UK prime minister Boris Johnson once called it “fascinating.” Today, it places the ideologies of Johnson’s Conservative party near both the UKIP and Brexit parties, as well as Donald Trump.

The website doesn’t disclose its exact methodology of how it places politicians and parties on the quadrant, but says it considers speeches, manifestos, and sometimes voting records. It also has a lengthy section addressing the common criticisms it receives.