From Promises to Decisions: Analyzing Immigration Policy in Spain

GT 5.6 La dinámica de las políticas públicas en un contexto de gobernanza multinivel

Virginia Ros Albaladejo
Laura Morales
Anna Palau (Universitat de Barcelona)
Sesión 2
Día: jueves,19 de septiembre de 2013
Hora: 11:45 a 14:15

In this paper we analyze whether immigration policy occurs following the programmatic commitments of political parties as expressed in the party platforms, as the party mandate theory would suggest; or on the contrary, it is more an unplanned, disorderly process, as the agenda setting perspective would predict. In the first perspective it is assumed that political parties clearly announce their policy priorities during the electoral campaign, and try to put them into practice during their term depending on institutional factors (mainly the type of government or/and the distribution of parliamentary seats). In contrast, the agenda setting approach considers the policy process as an essentially disorderly and unplanned process, in which party preferences and institutions are but one of the variables to be taken into account to explain policy. External factors and agenda constraints should be also taken into account to explain how and why immigration is increasingly salient in the political agenda. Taking into account these theoretical perspectives, we first explain how political parties have framed immigration from the mid-1990s to present across different venues – electoral pledges, speeches, oral questions, parliamentary and executive bills and laws. We then test whether there is correspondence between promises and political activities by political party, and whether these differences can be linked to the type of government, government and opposition dynamics, or other factors like changes in the public mood, or dramatic events. To test these hypotheses, we use the databases created by the SOM project ( about immigration policy and the databases about the political agenda created by the Spanish Policy Agendas project (

Palabras clave: políticas públicas, inmigración, mandatos electorales, España