ParlaCLARINII@LREC2020 Keynote

Different arenas, different texts, one message? What we can learn from a combined analysis of manifestos and parliamentary debates
by Pola Lehmann & Bernhard Weßels


The study of parties’ policy preferences and policy positions based on manifesto content has been the foundation of the Manifesto Project for decades. Since 1979 the project has been gathering manifestos in over 60 countries over a time span of more than 60 years. The content-analytical data derived from these manifestos serves the analysis of many different topics in party and election research. Developments in automated text-analysis have created an increasing interest in the underlying textual data. The Manifesto Corpus, published in 2015, makes the textual basis together with the manual annotations available and open up many new possibilities for research. 

The purpose of the presentation is twofold. In a first section, a brief overview of the development of the Manifesto project, of the main goals and main research topics will be presented. The relevance for research into party competition and political representation will be highlighted by placing research results from the group in the political process of representation and decision-making. A second section will take up the perspective of combining Manifesto research with the working of parties in parliament. One of the most recent research endeavours is the combination of manifesto and parliamentary texts to study questions of political representation with a new perspective. While the combination of these two textual sources implicates a couple of methodological challenges connected to the different nature of such texts, it also enables interesting new research. The keynote will both address some of these methodological challenges and illustrate the benefit of such endeavours by presenting some substantial research findings derived through the combination of these two textual sources. Based on party positions derived from both manifestos and parliamentary debates the process of coalition compromise in parliament can be studied in a new manner and enrich our knowledge of intra-parliamentary bargaining processes. 

Short bio

Pola Lehmann has studied public administration at the universities of Potsdam and Copenhagen. She is working as a research fellow in the Manifesto Project at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre. In 2019 she has completed her doctoral thesis on “Political Parties as Agents of Deliberative Representation“. In her thesis she has studied how party positions change between the electoral and the parliamentary arena and has used automated content analysis to predict party positions from both manifestos and parliamentary debates. Her research focusses on political representation, political parties, and automated content analysis.

Bernhard Weßels has studied sociology, economics, statistics and political science at the Free University of Berlin, where he also did his PhD. He is professor of political science at Humboldt-University Berlin, and deputy director of the research unit “Democracy and Democratization” at the WZB. He is principal investigator and head of MARPOR and co-head of the German Longitudinal Election Study. He has widely published on comparative political behaviour and political attitudes nationally and internationally. Latest international book publications include “Voters on the Move or on the Run?” (2014) and “Voters and Voters in Context” (2017).



Further details about ParlaCLARINII@LREC2020 can be found on the workshop page.