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Economic Performance, Political Institutions and Cabinet Durability in 28 European Parliamentary Democracies, 1945–2011

Abstract

After reviewing the literature on cabinet terminations and demonstrating the progress from early explanations based on the structural attributes of cabinets and their political environment to increasingly sophisticated ‘unified’ models of strategic responses to exogenous shocks, this chapter will (a) discuss ways of using existing datasets to operationalize one of these unified models, Lupia and Strøm’s influential model of strategic cabinet termination (focusing on the conditions of political institutions to influence the costs of governing under the impact of exogenous shocks such as economic crises); and (b) test a version of it empirically by using a competing-risk design and a new set of political and economic data covering 28 European democracies over a period of more than 60 years. It is found that strong increases in unemployment were particularly destructive for European cabinets, whereas the impact of inflation seems to be mitigated by political and strategic factors. Duration-dependent effects—unemployment increasing the risk of early elections towards the end of a parliamentary term and increasing the risk of non-electoral cabinet replacements at its beginning—are small but significant, corroborating some of the observable implications of the Lupia–Strøm model.

Keywords

  • Government stability
  • Cabinet durability
  • Economic crises
  • Cabinet reshuffles
  • Election timing
  • Event-history analysis

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Fig. 4.1
Fig. 4.2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Their empirical analyses in the same article, however, provide only limited support for this expectation. Single-party cabinets are terminated by early elections more frequently than multi-party cabinets, but the effect is not statistically significant at the five-percentage level (t = −1.3042).

  2. 2.

    Time-varying covariates measuring the data at least annually will be added to the dataset shortly.

  3. 3.

    The models reported here are not strictly comparable. The estimations in Tables 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5 are for the risk of all discretionary terminations (i.e. early elections as well as cabinet replacements) and based on a shared frailty design. Strictly comparable analyses (not reported here) lead to very similar results.

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Saalfeld, T. (2013). Economic Performance, Political Institutions and Cabinet Durability in 28 European Parliamentary Democracies, 1945–2011. In: Müller, W., Narud, H. (eds) Party Governance and Party Democracy. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6588-1_4

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