Do Portuguese political parties respond to voters during the campaign and when taking office? An answer to this question is sought in the article «Party policy responsiveness at the agenda-setting and decision-making stages: The mediating effect of the types of government and promise», by Ana Maria Belchior, Hugo Ferrinho Lopes, Luís Cabrita and Emmanouil Tsatsanis, published in the International Political Science Review.

For the development of this study, the researchers took into account the party manifestos between 1995 and 2015, as well as surveys of Portuguese citizens, and evaluated the degree of response of the parties to the political priorities of the voters in relation to the emphasis placed on the political areas in their manifestos and relative to the degree of fulfillment of pledges in areas that voters prioritize, examining the coherence in party responses between campaign promises and post-election policy.

The study considered a period of two decades and covered five Portuguese legislatures, allowing a valid test of party coherence in the response to voters’ priorities in campaign promises and in their post-electoral policy, and demonstrated the sensitivity in the parties’ response to voters, with governing parties being consistently more receptive to the electorate’s most important issues throughout the electoral cycle.

The results obtained have important implications for understanding opinion-policy links and response to the mandate, as well as, more broadly, for party competition, demonstrating that: 1) A substantial part of the legislative agenda seems to be less driven by electoral manifestos , and more by events in society and by established legislative routines, moving parties away from their initial priorities; 2) the priority issues of voters tend to be better accommodated by parties in the decision-making phase than in campaign manifestos; 3) being a left-wing government increases responsiveness, since such governments tend to fulfill more electoral promises in political areas prioritized by the public; 4) minority governments tend to be more receptive to voters’ priorities than majority governments.

The article is available in full on the Sage Journals website.

“The International Political Science Review (IPSR)» is the journal published by the International Political Science Association, and is focused on publishing peer-reviewed articles which make a significant contribution to international political science.