Not all promises are equal: towards better promise trackers

Adam Feldman
Jordan Urban

20 Mar 2019, 4:30 p.m.
Room D (Chateau)

Promise trackers are online tools which record real world progress against the pledges made by politicians.

There is little standardisation in the approach of the several promise trackers in operation around the world, or communication between them. Adam presents experiences of creating govtracker.co.uk alongside that of others who have analysed pledge fulfilment in both the academic and Civic Tech spheres, in order to answer questions about the future of promise tracking.

One key question he looks to answer is how each promise should be weighted against each other when assessing government progress. Typically, parties make hundreds of campaign promises but voters hear about very few of them. Some promises are hugely significant to the result of elections; others are hardly mentioned. Despite this, Promise Trackers currently treat all promises equally.

Established academic thought on mandate theory suggests this is a flawed approach. Andrew describes an experiment to measure the centrality of promises from the 2017 UK Conservative manifesto, covering 257 policies, to gauge the importance of weighting pledges when designing or running a promise tracker.