Do They Walk Like They Talk?

Speech and Action in Policy Processes

  • Louis M. Imbeau

Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 15)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
  3. Disciplinary Perspectives

  4. Empirical Studies

  5. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 277-277
    2. Louis M. Imbeau, Steve Jacob, François Pétrys
      Pages 279-290
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 291-305

About this book


George Bush’s 1988 campaign pledge, "Read my lips: no new taxes," has become a mantra for those who distrust politicians and bureaucrats. The gulf between what political leaders say and do seems to be widening, and in democratic societies around the world, contributing to an atmosphere of cynicism and apathy among the citizenry. Understanding the characteristics and functions of speech in policy processes is a requirement for trying to overcome this problem. However, there has been scant analysis of political discourse; the aim of this book is to help fill this analytical gap, by exploring political speech from a variety of perspectives, including normative, epistemological, and empirical. Incorporating insights from economics, political science, philosophy, and law, and evidence from the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Turkey, and the EU, the book addresses a wide variety of timely issues, including:

  • Fiscal discipline in speeches vs budget balance

    Revenues forecasted in budget speeches vs realized budget outcomes

    Electoral pledges vs actual realizations

    Ideological stance in party publications vs spending and revenues of party governments

    The political business cycle

Other questions explored include: Should policy makers always tell the truth and all the truth? What are the benefits and the costs of transparency? How can we resolve the apparent contradiction between the democratic demand for transparency and the efficiency requirement of secrecy in many policy areas? Under which conditions is secrecy acceptable in a democratic society? To what extent may deception and lies lead to a breach of trust or to power abuse? What are the most efficient institutional mechanisms to prevent such abuse? Collectively, the authors present new insights for understanding political process and government activity, and suggest avenues for further research.


Election Government Political Action Political Communication Political Discourse Political Science Political Speech Politician Public Choice Rhetoric Voting Behavior politics

Editors and affiliations

  • Louis M. Imbeau
    • 1
  1. 1.Dépt. Science PolitiqueUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

Bibliographic information