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Mutual Veto? How Coalitions Work

  • Wolfgang C. Müller
  • Thomas M. Meyer
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 16)

Abstract

Coalition governments typically face problems from conflicting preferences of the cabinet parties. For many reasons individual ministers are likely to pursue party rather than coalition policies. Yet, the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility ties the coalition as a whole to government policy. In this chapter, we study how coalitions as collective actors can strengthen the link to their ministers. Drawing on the principal–agent approach and the literature on coalition governance, we identify several mechanisms that help to establish coalition control over individual ministers. We discuss how specific control mechanisms serve the functions of contract design, screening, monitoring, and institutional checks familiar from the delegation literature. Employing data from post-war Western European coalitions and using multi-level models, we present a unified analysis of coalition governance. Focussing on the architecture of coalition governance, we argue that coalition cabinets employ control mechanisms that complement each other. A country’s experience with specific control mechanisms, the coalition’s bargaining environment, the actors’ policy preferences, and political institutions determine whether coalition parties are willing to bear the costs of negotiating compromises.

Keywords

Coalition Government Election Rule Coalition Partner Coalition Parti Policy Agreement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the conference “Reform processes and policy change: How do veto players determine decision-making in modern democracies” at the University of Mannheim/MZES, 14–16 May 2009. The authors thank the participants for helpful comments and criticism.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.University of Mannheim (MZES, CDSS)MannheimGermany

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