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FORMING A GOVERNMENT Readings: Lijphart pgs 90-115 and 135-139 and Laver and Schofield.

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Presentation on theme: "FORMING A GOVERNMENT Readings: Lijphart pgs 90-115 and 135-139 and Laver and Schofield."— Presentation transcript:

1 FORMING A GOVERNMENT Readings: Lijphart pgs and and Laver and Schofield

2 Guiding Questions What is coalition theory? How do we explain which parties get into government? What do office based theories hypothesize? What do policy based theories hypothesize?

3 Coalition Theory In majoritarian systems, election day determines who forms government. Whoever gets the most votes, wins. Many parliamentary systems use proportional representation to elect representatives. This makes it difficult for one party to win more than 50% of the seats. Parties wishing to enter government have to create a coalition that cannot be defeated on a confidence vote. Coalition theory examines why certain parties enter government and others do not. Following an election there are many possible coalitions. But not all are feasible. Some parties are always in government while others are always in opposition. Why are certain parties more likely to enter government while others do not seek to enter government at all? Literature offers both office based and policy based motivations for entering government

4 Office Seeking Theories Posit that parties primarily seek the spoils associated with holding office Conceives of government formation as a zero sum game over the spoils of office Spoils include seats in cabinet, political appointments, agenda control, etc. Theories are usually policy blind Parties only care about policy to the extent which it enhances their ability to obtain office Lijphart 1999 Several types of office seeking theories of coalition formation Minimal winning Minimum winning (or minimum size) Bargaining proposition/minimal range Minimum connected winning (MCW)

5 Minimal Winning Coalitions Riker 1962 If parties are primarily concerned about gaining the spoils of office, then they will not want to enter a coalition that contains more parties than necessary to obtain a majority. Hypothesis: Minimal winning coalitions will form. Minimal winning coalitions: Coalitions where every party is critical to maintaining a majority (i.e. no superfluous parties). Observations: From , 35% of coalitions formed followed this pattern.

6 Minimum Winning Coalitions Riker 1962 But in large systems, several minimal winning coalitions are possible. How do parties choose between minimal winning coalitions? Proportionality typically governs the allotment of seats within the cabinet A party bringing 20% of the seats to the coalition will receive approximately 20% of the seats within the cabinet Thus, parties seeking to enhance their influence should seek to form coalitions with the narrowest majority possible in order to boost their bargaining weight. Hypothesis: Minimum winning coalitions will form. Minimum winning coalitions: Coalitions consisting of parties with the smallest total weight.

7 Bargaining Proposition/Minimal Range Questions of which minimal coalition would be chosen plagued these theories. Ideological placement enters into the discussion But ideology is only used as a means to an end Leiserson 1970 Leaders seek to reduce the number of parties necessary to achieve a majority (bargaining proposition) Hypothesis: Minimal winning coalitions should form containing the smallest number of parties possible Reducing the ideological range between parties eases bargaining and makes it easier to maintain a coalition (minimal range) That is, it is easier to make and keep promises with ideological neighbors Hypothesis: Minimal range coalitions should form

8 Iceland 1983 WL-3 SD-6 SDF-4 TOTAL SEATS: 60 PA-10 PP-14 IP-23 MAJORITY: 31 7 possible minimal winning coalitions (no superfluous parties): 37: IP/PP 34: PP/PA/SD/SDF 33: IP/PA; IP/SD/SDF; PP/PA/SD/WL 32: IP/SD/WL 31: PP/PA/SDF/WL 1 minimum winning coalition (minimal winning with smallest weight): 31: PP/PA/SDF/WL 2 bargaining proposition: 37: IP+PP and 33: IP +PA ACTUAL RESULT: IP and PP WL

9 Minimal Connected Winning Coalitions Axelrod 1970 Policy compatibility reduces the number of viable coalitions and eases bargaining. Hypothesis: Minimal connected winning coalitions will form. Minimal connected winning coalitions: Minimal winning coalitions made up of parties which are ideological neighbors Loss of one party leaves a coalition which is either: 1) no longer winning 2) no longer connected

10 Italy 1972 PCI 179 PSI 61 PSDI 29 PRI 15 DC 267 PLI 20 MSI coalitions were possible. 3 were minimal connected winning (MCW): PSI/PSDI/PRI/DC PSDI/PRI/DC/PLI DC/PLI/MSI. Any coalition including the MSI or the PCI was not an option. Five coalitions formed before new elections were held. 630 TOTAL SEATS-MAJORITY IS OTHER

11 Italy 1972-Revolving Coalitions 1 st : DC minority government (267). 2 nd : DC coalition (minimum winning-316). 3 rd : DC coalition (minimal connected winning-372). 4 th : DC coalition (surplus majority-357 seats) 5 th : DC minority government (282).

12 Evaluating Office Based Theories Pure office based theories cannot address: 1) Why surplus parties are ever included in a governing coalition? Example: Italy 2) Why minority governments form? Example: Denmark But policy based theories of coalition formation can explain both

13 Policy Seeking Theories Posit that political parties actually care about policy outcomes Although they are agnostic about whether or not this push for policy is sincere (i.e. parties care about policy outcomes) or strategic (i.e. adopting certain policies are likely to aid in re-election). Laver and Schofield 1998 Parties enter winning coalitions that will adopt their preferred policy. That is, they seek to enter policy viable cabinets. Policy viable cabinets contain (or are supported by) the core or pivot party Party controlling the median voter serves as the pivot within the legislature. Why? Because no winning coalition can form to enact policy against their wishes Sees the party holding the median voter as a policy dictator Hypothesis: Coalitions will include the party holding the median legislator.

14 Denmark SEATS TOTAL. 8 OTHERS. MAJ = 90 The median legislator is a Social Democrat (SD). Any viable coalition would require SD support. Result: SD formed a minority government. Defeating the SD would require parties of the left and the right to coalesce. Unlikely. So a party could govern without holding a majority of seats. SFP 20 SD 69 RV 13 V 34 KFP 35

15 Evaluating Policy Based Theories Median parties are well placed in coalition bargaining talks. More than 80% of coalitions from included or were supported by the median party. To suggest that parties care about policy does not mean that they do not possess office seeking goals. Understanding government formation requires us to look at BOTH policy and office goals. Some circumstances require parties to emphasize one or the other.

16 Election 2005: Merkels Dilemma Majority = 308 No party could govern alone. Schroeder and Merkel both made claims on the chancellorship. Merkel was given first crack at forming a coalition. Her party held the most seats.

17 El ection 2005: Merkels Dilemma Merkels preferred policy coalition (yellow-black): FDP/CDU/CSU = 287 seats 21 short. Schroeders preferred policy coalition (red-green): SPD/B90GR = short. PDS/Left was not an option. Both sides needed to woo another party. Attention turned to the B90Gr and FDP.

18 Election 2005: Merkels Dilemma From an office seeking standpoint, adding B90/Gr (i.e. a Jamaica coalition) would give Merkel 338 seats. Rejected by the Green party on policy grounds. Adding the FDP to the SPD/B90/Gr (i.e. traffic light coalition) would give Schroeder 334 seats. But this was rejected by the FDP on policy grounds.

19 Election 2005: Merkels Dilemma Polls showed Germans did not want another election. Merkel agrees to form a grand coalition with the SPD. Coalition was strained by: 1) conservative social policy advocated by the CSU 2) center left economic policy favored by the SPD 3) desire for economic reform by members of the CDU. SPD entered 2009 elections pushing for a return of the grand coalition. CDU wanted to end it.

20 Conclusions: Election 2009 CDU vote declined slightly Being in government can sometimes come at an electoral cost. Voters punished the SPD Worst performance in the postwar era Voters rewarded the FDP, the Greens, and the Left All opposition parties fared well. Government formed by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. Merkel was seeking a yellow-black coalition rather than another grand coalition Left-76 G/B90-68 SPD-146 FDP-93 CDU-194 CSU-45

21 Next Unit Theme: State and Society I – Social Welfare Readings: Hay and Menon CH 13 and 17 Reid Esping Andersen, Gilbert


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