Measuring How Political Parties Keep Their Promises: A Positive Perspective from Political Science

  • François PétryEmail author
  • Benoît Collette
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)


This chapter addresses three questions about the relationship between political discourse and action: Do political parties keep their promises once elected? What are the methodologies used by scholars to demonstrate that political parties keep (or do not keep) their campaign promises? Are these methodologies valid and reliable? We answer these questions based on a review of 18 journal articles and book chapters published in English and French over the past forty years that report quantitative measures of election promise fulfillment in North America and Europe. We find that parties fulfill 67% of their promises on average, with wide variation across time, countries, and regimes. Most studies have major methodological weaknesses (no operational definition, no mention of relevant documentation, flawed research design) although the more recent ones tend to show higher levels of methodological sophistication and a modicum of scientific transparency.


Political Party Operational Definition Government Action Explicit Criterion Political Parti 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Gerald Miller for his stimulating comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de science politiqueUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Département de science politiqueUniversité LavalQuebecCanada

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