Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture

CSPPR seminar: Should We Stay or Should We Go? Electoral Effects of Dropping Out of Coalition Talks

Date
Wednesday 18 September 2019
Time
Location
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room
0.A28

Why do political parties drop out of coalition negotiations?

Before coalition governments are established, political parties engage in extensive coalition talks in which the coalition’s policy agenda and the distribution of ministerial offices are negotiated. It frequently happens that parties abandon coalition talks despite having spent weeks or even months in negotiations with potential parties, thereby significantly delaying government formation. Despite the central importance of timely government formation for the stability and performance of political systems, we know very little about why parties abandon coalition talks, giving up attractive ministerial posts and risking public blaming. Heike Klüver, Professor and Chair of Comparative Political Behaviour at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, argues that parties decide to abandon coalition negotiations when they expect to reap electoral gains.

Professor Heike Klüver
Professor Heike Klüver

Moreover, the more conflict there is between potential coalition partners, the more likely a party is to drop out of coalition talks since policy concessions to future partners would be too high. Klüver has compiled a comprehensive dataset on the electoral performance of nearly 300 political parties running in 130 elections in 26 European countries from 1990-2015 to test this theoretical expectations comparatively and over time. The results have important implications for our understanding of coalition governments, democratic representation and the stability of democratic systems.

Image: ‘Wir sind klein’, Wilfried Pohnke, Pixabay

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