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Promising ever more: An empirical account of Swedish parties' pledge making during 20 years

Journal article
Authors Nicklas Håkansson
Elin Naurin
Published in Party Politics
Volume 22
Issue 3
Pages 393-404
ISSN 1354-0688
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Political Science
Pages 393-404
Language en
Keywords campaign activities, content analysis, election promises, party change/adaptation, Sweden
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


This study argues that three recent societal trends have increased parties’ incentives to give election promises in campaigns: the increasing volatility of voters, the professionalization and marketization of politics, and the mediatization of politics. Arguments are empirically tested on the case of Sweden between 1991 and 2010. All promises presented in election manifestos by Swedish parliamentary parties are analyzed, enabling analyses of six elections, nine parties, 44 manifestos and almost 4000 election promises. We find that Swedish parties increased their pledge making considerably during the period, from an average of 46 per manifesto to 149. Specific promises have increased, as have the pledges that are unrelated to other parties’ pledges. Altogether, the results point at an increasingly specific vote choice for voters.

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