In this top group, the major parties all provide reasonable, coherent platforms, and outside interest groups often play an influential and constructive role in policy-making.
In each of these states, the major parties’ platforms reflect a responsible description of policy goals, with election promises rarely exceeding realistic constraints.
Economic interest groups are deeply integrated into the policy-making process in Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark – though this has diminished somewhat in the latter two – and are thus given incentive to propose practical policies. The character of civil society organizations varies widely in each, with some achieving influential positions or even formalized consultative relationships.
In this group, the most significant parties mix plausible proposals with vague or unrealistic proposals. Economic and other non-governmental groups are often sophisticated and influential.
Political parties in New Zealand and the United Kingdom offer particularly well-grounded proposals. Belgian parties appeal to their separate linguistic bases with unrealistic institutional reform proposals, while Austrian, Germanand Icelandicparties tend to seek votes with vague or unrealizable proposals.
Economic interest groups are a close and responsible part of policy-making in Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, and to a decreasing extent, Finland. In Iceland, they played an important role in the consensus-driven policy response to financial collapse.
A rich diversity of civil society associations exists in each of these states, but these typically have considerably less influence than do traditional economic associations.
In this group, unrealistic or vague promises from political parties are more common, and important sectors of civil society often lack the ability or inclination to make realistic policy proposals.
Party programs are relatively vague or unrealistic in Slovakia, Italy and Mexico. US presidential candidates’ platforms are often unrealistic, while Swiss party platforms have become more polarized.
Non-economic civil society groups have comparatively limited resources and sophistication in Mexico and Japan. The US interest group sector is diverse and often quite influential, while Slovakia’s NGO sector played an active role in monitoring the Fico government in the areas of civil rights and the environment.
Ireland’s ratings dropped substantially in all three indicators in comparison to the SGI 2009, in part because parties’ electoral proposals were undermined by the financial collapse, and in part due to economic interest group lobbying that exacerbated boom-era weaknesses.
In this bottom group, political parties are often impelled to make unrealistic electoral proposals, while some or all interest association sectors are comparatively underdeveloped.
In Turkey, Hungary, South Korea and Greece, political parties’ platforms often contain unrealistic or vague proposals that have little basis in research or plausible assumptions. Poland’s current governing party offered well-researched reform proposals, while its various rivals relied more broadly on emotional appeals.
Economic interest groups in Chile, France and Portugal are narrowly focused, with limited expertise or influence. Non-economic interest associations in Turkey and Greece have little capacity for policy development. By comparison, South Korea’s NGO sector has matured markedly, but has little influence under the Lee administration.
The criterion’s biggest decline relative to the SGI 2009 was seen by Greece, with particularly large deficits associated with parties’ hastily written electoral proposals in 2007 and 2009, as well as non-economic interest groups’ weaknesses.