This paper aims at outlining a strategy for comparing secondary aspects in international
comparative research based on national election studies (or similar sources). Secondary
aspects encompass all variables that are not central to the basic research, from control
variables to components of lateral or dismissed models. This paper retraces the strategy used
in operationalizing an indicator for authoritarianism on the basis of a total of 16 studies
covering four party cases (Vlaams Blok, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, Christlich
Soziale Union in Bayern) in three countries (Belgium, United Kingdom and Germany) and
over a decade of inquiry (1991-2003).
The paper will first put the research situation into perspective before identifying the distinct
challenges that arose through variation between national questionnaires and within the
national questionnaires over time. It will then focus on the retrieved data structure and their
anticipated proprieties before elaborating the chosen path to ensure comparability. Specific
Multiple Correspondence Analysis was chosen as the method of analysis and its results will
be presented in some detail. Finally the relevance for other situations will be assessed.