Direct Democratic Campaigns and Evaluation

Switzerland has the highest amount of popular votes in Europe. Research on direct-democratic campaigns in the last decade has concentrated on opinion formation, the role of the media as well as on the strategies of the political actors. Existing research on evidence-based policy making in Switzerland mainly investigates the use of evaluation results in the administration and parliament. The subproject aims at reconciling these two secluded research traditions in analyzing how political actors persuade voters on behalf of evaluation results and what influence evaluation results have on the discourse of direct-democratic campaigns.

More precisely the project aims at answering the following research questions:

- In which campaigns and in which campaign materials are evaluation results integrated?

- In what form are evaluation results used?

- What difference does it make in the argumentation if evaluation results are used?

- What is the influence of the use of evaluation results on the campaign discourse?

The project analyzes the use of evaluation results in the policy sectors health and education. The study consists of two analytical parts: first, our interest is to produce an overview of the campaign materials that use evaluation results and the characteristics of these materials. For this we will code the media output and the governmental booklet of all the national and subnational votes that have taken place between 2000-2012 and analyze them on behalf of descriptive (correlation) statistics. From the overview of the first part we will be able to select specific cases for in-depth case studies in a second step. The in-depth case studies concentrate on the impact of the use of evaluation results on campaigns and we will use content analysis, interviews and discourse analysis as analytical methods.

In examining the relation between evaluation results and direct-democratic campaigns, this subproject contributes to the goal of the overall project, which analyzes the relationship between evaluation and the Swiss political system in general.


Project Leaders:

Prof. Dr. Fritz Sager
Dr. Verena Friedrich


Ph.D. Students:

Caroline Schlaufer
Iris Stucki



Unversity of Bern
Center of Competence for Public Management / Center of Advanced Training
Schanzeneckstrasse 1
CH-3001 Bern