Mandate and manifesto

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  • Mandate and manifesto
    • Doctrine of the mandate
      • Central to the relationship between the electorate, parties and government
      • Mandate implies the consent of the people, allowing a political party to do what they feel is necessary for the national interest
      • When a party wins an election and forms government, it has a mandate to carry out all the policy commitments contained in its election manifesto
    • Significance of mandates / manifestos
      • Voters feel confident they understand which policies they are consenting to
        • However doctrine does assume voters have full knowledge and can make rational judgment
      • Wining party gains legitimacy for its policies
      • Parliament / devolved assemblies can call government to account on the basis of their manifesto
      • Gives voters the opportunity to judge the performance of government when election time comes around
      • All MPs from wining party who are elected are bound in by the mandate
        • Leaders can maintain discipline among members as they were all elected on the same mandate
    • Problems with the doctrine of mandate
      • If there's a coalition, the content of the mandate is unclear as one party's manifesto no longer applies
      • If a minority government is formed they can't legitimately claim a mandate
      • Voters who opt for one party don't necessarily agree with all its manifesto commitments
        • Mandate doctrine does assume the electorate has given its consent to the whole manifesto
      • After a party takes power, circumstances may change and they may have to amend policies or abandon some
        • A governing party does not have a mandate for such changes
      • Some manifesto commitments may be rather vague and open to interpretation
        • Makes calling the government to account on the basis of its manifesto difficult and open to dispute

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