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The content analysis of manifestos in multilevel settings: Exemplified for Spanish regional manifestos


  • Alonso, Sonia
  • Volkens, Andrea
  • Cabeza, Laura
  • Gómez, Braulio


This discussion paper describes a specific approach to content analysing multilevel party manifestos building on a methodology that was originally developed in the context of the Manifesto Research Group (MRG). Since 1979, the MRG has been collecting and coding national-level election programs with the aim of estimating policy preferences of political parties. The second phase of the project started in 1989. In the context of its Comparative Manifestos Project (CMP), the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) provided resources for updating and expanding the MRG data. Since then, country experts were hired to collect and code national election programs according to a handbook that describes how to identify the coding units and how to apply the classification scheme of policy preferences under central supervision. The third phase of the project took off in 2009. The Manifesto Project is now part of a long-term grant scheme of the German Research Foundation (DFG) which finances quality enhancement, updates, extensions, and distribution of the 50 country text and content analytical data collection under the title Manifesto Research on Political Representation (MARPOR). The MRG/CMP/MARPOR Project is solely concerned with national election programs. However, in decentralized political systems, parties also publish local and regional election programs and, in times of globalization, transnational party federations increasingly produce joint programs. Comparing these manifestos in multilevel settings can provide additional answers to questions of multilevel governance. This handbook presents a manual content-analytical approach to identifying parties' multilevel preferences. It instructs coders on how to apply two combined content analytical classification schemes: first, the classification of multilevel policy preferences, based on the MRG/CMP/MARPOR classification developed for national manifestos but adapted to multilevel elections and, second, a classification of territorial authority claims on multiple levels of governance. This double classification scheme is then applied to regional party manifestos in Spain, providing examples of multilevel analysis for training coders and testing their grasp of the complex concepts of parties' multilevel preferences.

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  • Alonso, Sonia & Volkens, Andrea & Cabeza, Laura & Gómez, Braulio, 2012. "The content analysis of manifestos in multilevel settings: Exemplified for Spanish regional manifestos," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Democracy and Democratization SP IV 2012-201, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbdsc:spiv2012201

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