Vol. 87 No. 1 (2024)

Do parties adjust their policy proposals to the political context? A study of election promises during the 2022 Italian general election

Giorgia Borgnino
University of Bologna
Nicola Palma
University of Bologna

Published 2024-01-01


  • Election Promises,
  • Policy Issues,
  • Issue Salience,
  • Parties,
  • 2022 Italian Election

How to Cite

Borgnino, G., & Palma, N. (2024). Do parties adjust their policy proposals to the political context? A study of election promises during the 2022 Italian general election. Italian Journal of Electoral Studies (IJES), 87(1). https://doi.org/10.36253/qoe-14603


This paper investigates towards which policy issues Italian political parties oriented their commitments in the run-up to the 2022 parliamentary election. Do parties make more promises in salient domains? Or, do they prioritise those issues in which they enjoy ownership? To answer these questions, we created a novel dataset that contains 3,992 election pledges made by Italian political parties in the 2022 electoral campaign. By looking at the programmatic policies included in the campaign manifestos of the main political parties and coalitions during the last general election, we find that Italian parties seem to compete around the same issues. In particular, in 2022 a large share of election promises was devoted to economic and social matters. Although the Ukrainian war, the resulting energy crisis, and the implementation of EU-funded investments were the backdrop to the 2022 electoral campaign, Italian political parties do not seem to prioritize these issues.


  1. Abou-Chadi, T., Green-Pedersen, C., & Mortensen, P.B. (2020). Parties’ Policy Adjustments in Response to Changes in Issue Saliency. West European Politics, 43(4), 749–71.
  2. Ansolabehere, S., & Iyengar, S. (1994). Riding the Wave and Claiming Ownership Over Issues: The Joint Effects of Advertising and News Coverage in Campaigns. Public Opinion Quarterly, 58(3), 335-357.
  3. Artés, J. (2011). Do Spanish Politicians Keep their Promises? Party Politics, 19(1), 143-158
  4. Bevan, S., John, P., & Jennings, W. (2011). Keeping Party Programmes on Track: the Transmission of the Policy Agendas of Executive Speeches to Legislative Outputs in the United Kingdom. European Political Science Review, 3(3), 395–417.
  5. Chiaramonte, A. (2023). Italy at the Polls. Four Lessons to Learn from the 2022 General Election. Contemporary Italian Politics, 15(1), 75–87.
  6. Chiaramonte, A., Emanuele, V., Maggini, N., & Paparo, A. (2023). Radical-Right Surge in a Deinstitutionalised Party System: The 2022 Italian General Election. South European Society and Politics, Online. DOI: 10.1080/13608746.2022.21600882160088
  7. De Sio, L., & Weber, T. (2014). Issue Yield: A Model of Party Strategy in Multidimensional Space. American Political Science Review, 108(4), 870-885.
  8. De Sio, L. & Weber, T. (2020). Issue Yield, Campaign Communication, and Electoral Performance: a Six-Country Comparative Analysis. West European Politics, 43(3), 720-745.
  9. Dolezal, M., Ennser-Jedenastik, L., Müller, W.C., & Winkler, A.K. (2012). The Life Cycle of Party Manifestos: The Austrian Case. West European Politics, 35(4), 869–895.
  10. Dolezal, M., Ennser-Jedenastik, L., Müller, W.C., & Winkler, A.K. (2014). How Parties Compete for Votes: A Test of Saliency Theory. European Journal of Political Research, 53(1), 57–76.
  11. Franzmann, S. T., Giebler, H., & Poguntke, T. (2020). It’s no Longer the Economy, Stupid! Issue Yield at the 2017 German Federal Election. West European Politics, 43(3), 610-638.
  12. Garzia, D. (2022). The Italian Parliamentary Election of 2022: The Populist Radical Right Takes Charge. West European Politics, Online. DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2022.2148603.
  13. Giannetti, D., Pedrazzani, A., & Pinto, L. (2018). The Rising Importance of Non-Economic Policy Dimensions and the Formation of the Conti Government in Italy. Italian Political Science, 13(2), 27-44.
  14. Green-Pedersen, C. (2007). The Growing Importance of Issue Competition: The Changing Nature of Party Competition in Western Europe. Political Studies, 55(3), 607–628.
  15. Green-Pedersen, C., & Mortensen, P.B. (2010). Who Sets the Agenda and Who Responds to It in the Danish Parliament? A New Model of Issue Competition and Agenda-Setting. European Journal of Political Research, 49(2), 257–281.
  16. Green-Pedersen, C., & Stubager, R. (2010). The Political Conditionality of Mass Media Influence: When Do Parties Follow Mass Media Attention?. British Journal of Political Science, 40(3), 663–677.
  17. Harmel, R. (2018). The How’s and Why’s of Party Manifestos: Some Guidance for a Cross-National Research Agenda. Party Politics, 24(3), 229–239.
  18. Håkansson, N., & Naurin, E. (2016). Promising Ever More: An Empirical Account of Swedish Parties’ Pledge Making During 20 Years. Party Politics, 22(3), 393-404.
  19. Hobolt, S.B., & Klemmemsen, R. (2005). Responsive Government? Public Opinion and Government Policy Preferences in Britain and Denmark. Political Studies, 53(2), 379–402.
  20. Improta, M., Mannoni, E., Marcellino, C., & Trastulli, F. (2022). Voters, Issues, and Party Loyalty: The 2022 Italian Election under the Magnifying Glass. Quaderni Dell’Osservatorio Elettorale QOE - IJES, Online. DOI: https://doi.org/10.36253/qoe-13956
  21. Klüver, H., & Spoon, J-J. (2014). Who Responds? Voters, Parties and Issue Attention. British Journal of Political Science, 46(3), 633-654.
  22. Klüver, H., & Sagarzazu, I. (2016). Setting the Agenda or Responding to Voters? Political Parties, Voters and Issue Attention. West European Politics, 39(2), 380–398.
  23. Mansbridge, J. (2003). Rethinking Representation. American Political Science Review, 97(4), 515-528.
  24. Matthieß, T. (2020). Retrospective Pledge Voting: A Comparative Study of the Electoral Consequences of Government Parties’ Pledge Fulfilment. European Journal of Political Research, 59(4), 774–796.
  25. Meguid, B. M. (2008). Party Competition between Unequals: Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  26. Meyer, T.M.,& Wagner, M. (2013). Mainstream or Niche? Vote-Seeking Incentives and the Programmatic Strategies of Political Parties. Comparative Political Studies, 46(10), 1246–1272.
  27. Meyer, T.M.,& Wagner, M. (2016). Issue Engagement in Election Campaigns The Impact of Electoral Incentives and Organizational Constraints. Political Science Research and Methods, 4(3), 555–571.
  28. Moury, C., & Timmermans, A. (2008). Conflitto e accordo in governi di coalizione: come l'Italia é sempre meno un 'caso differente'. Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, 3, 417-442
  29. Naurin, E, Royed, T.J., & Thomson, R. (2019). Party Mandates and Democracy: Making, Breaking, and Keeping Election Pledges in Twelve Countries. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.
  30. Petrocik, J.R. (1996). Issue Ownership in Presidential Elections, with a 1980 Case Study. American Journal of Political Science, 40(3), 825-850.
  31. Pirro, A.L.P. (2018). The Polyvalent Populism of the 5 Star Movement. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 26(4), 443-458.
  32. Plescia, C., Kritzinger, S., & Oberluggauer, P. (2020). Parties’ Issue Strategies on the Drawing Board: the 2017 Austrian Case. West European Politics, 43(3), 639-664.
  33. Royed, T.J. (1996). Testing the Mandate Model in Britain and the United States: Evidence from the Reagan and Thatcher Eras. British Journal of Political Science, 26(1), 45–80.
  34. Schumacher, G., van de Wardt, M., Vis, B., & Klitgaard, M.B. (2015). How Aspiration to Office Conditions the Impact of Government Participation on Party Platform Change. American Journal of Political Science, 59(4), 1040–1054.
  35. Sides, J. (2007). The Consequences of Campaign Agendas. American Politics Research, 35(4), 465–488.
  36. Spoon, J.-J., & Klüver, H. (2015). Voter Polarisation and Party Responsiveness: Why Parties Emphasise Divided Issues, but Remain Silent on Unified Issues: Voter Polarisation and Party Responsiveness. European Journal of Political Research, 54(2), 343–362.
  37. Stokes, D. E. (1992). Valence Politics. In D., Kavanagh (Ed.). Electoral Politics (pp. 141-162). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  38. Tavits, M. (2007). Principle vs. Pragmatism: Policy Shifts and Political Competition. American Journal of Political Science, 51(1), 151–165.
  39. Wagner, M., & Meyer, T.M. (2014). Which Issues Do Parties Emphasise? Salience Strategies and Party Organisation in Multiparty Systems. West European Politics, 37(5), 1019–1045.