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An Alternative Model of the Formation of Political Coalitions


Most models of the formation of political coalitions use either Euclidean spaces or rely purely on game theory. This limits their applicability. In this article, a single model is presented which is more broadly applicable. In principle any kind of set can be used as a policy space. The model is also able to incorporate different kinds of party motivations: both rent-seeking and idealism. The model uses party preferences and power to identify stable coalitions and predict government policy as well as to indicate which member of the opposition will be able to break up the governing coalition if no stable coalition exists. In the latter case it will also indicate on which issue the government is likely to split. Parties may have preferences over issues such as the composition of cabinet and/or the governing coalition as well as the more traditional issues of government formation. The model also provides a rationale for log-rolling.


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Correspondence to Jan-Willem Van Der Rijt.

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Van Der Rijt, JW. An Alternative Model of the Formation of Political Coalitions. Theor Decis 64, 81–101 (2008).

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  • political coalitions
  • government formation
  • coalition formation
  • log-rolling
  • government policy