Do Parties Matter? A Qualitative Answer with Numbers

  • Jean Crête
  • Nouhoun Diallo
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)


A central condition for liberal democracy to persist is that the authorities implement what they said they were going to do. The actions of the authorities, or policies, are here observed through the Inaugural Speeches which list what the governments would do in the following months. The content of those addresses is compared to the content of the electoral party platforms of the parties forming the government. The data cover 46 years of political life in Quebec. The Inaugural Speeches as well as the party platforms are analyzed along a left–right dimension using the categories of the Comparative Manifesto Project. The results show that policies diverge as much in the years 2000 as they did in the 1960s. The detailed study of the party platforms do not predict exactly the policies, but the relative position of the parties, on a left–right continuum, gives a clear idea of what their policies will be. When a political party takes control of the government it implements what it said it was going to do. There is no dissonance between the before and the after.


Political Party Prime Minister Liberal Democracy Policy Position Ideological Position 
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.



We thank Benoît Collette, Department of Political Science at Laval University, for providing the data on party platforms.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de science politiqueUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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