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A new Database of Parliamentary Debates in Ireland, 1922--2008

Slava Mikhaylov, London School of Economics, Institute for International Integration Studies, Trinity College Dublin
Alexander Herzog, New York University Disclaimer

IIIS Discussion Paper No. 338


We present a new database of parliamentary debates and written answers in Dáil Éireann for the entire time period from the third Dáil in 1922 to the thirtieth Dáil in 2008. This database was built from the Official Records of the Houses of the Oireachtas. Unlike its original version, our database integrates information about debates and information about deputies into a single database. This database therefore allows to search and retrieve contributions from individual deputies of the Dáil (Teachta Dála or TD) and to combine information about TDs' parties and constituencies with the history of political speeches and written answers. In addition, our database facilitates the application of content analysis software such as Wordscore (Laver, Benoit and Garry, 2003) or Wordfish (Slapin and Proksch, 2008) and makes it possible to estimate TDs' policy preferences from speeches. In this paper we document the structure of the database and how it was generated. We furthermore demonstrate how political debates can be used in social science research through a series of examples. These include an analysis of the policy agenda in all budget speeches from 1922 to today, the estimation of speakers' policy positions in the 2008 budget debate, and the estimation of ministers' policy positions in the 26th government in 2002.

Keywords : parliamentary debates, policy point estimation, budget speeches, text analysis
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Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).