Département de science politique
Faculté des sciences sociales

Methodology for Polimeters

In the weeks following the election of a new government, the promises found in the platform of the winning party are separated from statements that do not constitute promises. To be classified as such, a promise must commit the party to perform an action or reach a specific goal, and the pledge should be worded so as to enable the researcher to objectively assess whether this action or this goal was achieved later. The statements whose wording does not allow such an objective assessment are not considered promises. All platform statements that meet our definition are included in the analysis.

Once identified, promises are each classified as "kept", "kept in part or in the works", "broken" or "not yet rated". To be classified as "kept", a promise must be followed by an officially sanctioned government action (law, regulation, diplomatic treaty, etc.) or its next formal sanction must be a certainty. A promise is classified as "kept in part" if action to fulfill it was officially taken (i.e. a white paper, a bill, a budget announcement), even if the fulfillment is not complete. A promise is also classified as "kept in part or in the works” when the government’s action is a compromise in relation to the promise in the platform. Some promises specify the time within which they should be achieved. The promises which are kept after the prescribed deadline (but before the end of term) are also classified as "kept in part".

A promise is classified as "broken" if it was blocked by the opposition (in case of a minority government) or whenever the government has explicitly renounced the promise. A broken promise does not necessarily reflect a failure, and does not necessarily mean that the government has renounced fulfilling it at a later stage. Finally, the promises which have not yet led to any official action to fulfill them without being abandoned or blocked are classified as "not yet rated". It is expected that the promises will be fulfilled during the parliamentary term following the election in which they were made. Promises still classified as "not yet rated" when the Prime Minister requests the dissolution of the legislature become ipso facto "broken promises". Promises classified as “kept in part or in the works” at the end of a regular parliamentary cycle are reassessed. For example, when a new election is called and a bill dies on the order paper as a result, the corresponding promise is reclassified from " in the works " to " broken ". Other promises remain “kept in part or in the works” as long as the government action related to the promise has produced concrete results, even though these actions fail to entirely fulfill the promise.

Our classification of promises into distinct levels of fulfillment and the rules used to classify each pledge within a given level follow the method developed by the Comparative Party Pledge Group (CPPG), a consortium of international researchers who are interested in the comparative study of the fulfillment of election promises.

The polimeters only track promises made in the election platforms of parties, excluding the promises made by party leaders outside these platforms. We hope to eventually include the promises presented outside platforms during each election campaign.

The scores of each polimeter are regularly updated to reflect new actions undertaken by the government. If you have any questions or comments on the methodology, please contact us by email at polimetre@poltext.org

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