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Back to the Archives? A Critique of the Danish Part of the Manifesto Dataset


* Martin Ejnar Hansen, Danish Centre for Political Studies, Landgreven 3, 3., DK-1301 Copenhagen K, Denmark. E-mail:


The dataset of the Comparative Manifesto Project (CMP) is one the best known and often used datasets in comparative studies of Western Europe. However, the Danish part of the data is very problematic. On average, nearly a third of the content of the Danish manifestos is deemed impossible to code. A close examination of the Danish data reveals large variations in the number of coded sentences across time and parties. An analysis of the manifestos on which the coding is based sets all the warning lights flashing. First, not all manifestos are in fact manifestos; a number consist of other political texts (i.e. speeches, drafts) or even stem from different elections (e.g. municipal manifestos masquerading as national manifestos). Second, the large variation in the length of the manifestos across time suggests that the information derived from them is not readily comparable. This leads to a distorted picture of the positions of the Danish parties. The conclusion of this article is that in order for the Danish part of the CMP dataset to become more trustworthy, it is necessary to search the archives, find the actual manifestos and recode them.