ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details
Back to Paper Details

Coalition government, frustrated majorities, and perverse policy change

Government
Parliaments
Party Manifestos
Political Parties
Coalition
David Willumsen
University of Innsbruck
Simon Otjes
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
David Willumsen
University of Innsbruck

Abstract

Responsiveness to voters is a key attribute of democracies yet often fails to occur. We argue that coalition government, the most frequent form of government under parliamentarism, adds an additional hurdle to responsiveness in democracies. Coalition governments can agree to block policy change supported by a parliamentary majority through a veto by one of the government parties, frustrating majority rule. Similarly, multi-issue policy log-rolls between coalition parties in coalition agreement negotiations, none of which are individually supported by a parliamentary majority, can lead to perverse policy change. Drawing on data from the Netherlands Bureau of Economic Analysis, which estimates the budgetary impact of every measure included in party manifestos and coalition agreements, we assess the frequency with which coalition agreements include public spending policies supported by less than a parliamentary majority, and how often policies supported by parliamentary majorities are excluded from coalition agreements. We show that a large majority of policies included in coalition agreements are not supported by a floor majority, and that over a quarter of all polices supported by a floor majority fail to be included in the coalition agreement.