Where Have All the Pledges Gone? An Analysis of ČSSD and ODS Manifesto Promises since 2002 to 2013


There are many studies analysing the ability of parties to enact their election pledges. Most of these focus on established Western democracies and conclude that pledges made by parties that enter the government after elections are more likely to be enacted than those made by parties stuck in opposition. As the ability to keep election promises has important consequences for the quality of democracy, it is important to extend the analyses to the Central and Eastern European countries. We find a lack of such studies, however. This article seeks to make a contribution in this area. In this paper we analyse the case of the Czech Republic from 2002 to the parliamentary elections in 2013. The analysis includes pledges given in electoral manifestos by the two main parties in that period, the Czech Social Democratic Party and the Civic Democratic Party, which alternated in coalition governments. Unlike other studies from this region, we focus on a longer period, not just the last elections, so the results reflect a longer term trend, and not just the current situation. In the total sample of 1800 pledges made by the two parties in three elections we found that there is a larger success rate in keeping promises for the governing party; the ČSSD fulfilled fewer pledges when they were in power than the ODS. Surprisingly, the Social democrats had a greater percentage of enacted pledges while they were in opposition than in government. The analysis shows the shift in the composition of manifestos since the 2006 elections and the thematic composition of pledges and different success ratios among them.

election pledges; manifesto analysis; mandate theory; program-to-policy linkage; Czech Republic




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