Policy vs Office

Report
UNIT 8: PARTY GOALS: POLICY
VS. OFFICE
Lijphart, Laver and Schofield, Dalton and Wattenberg CH 9
Mueller and Strom pgs. 36-62 or 63-88*
Guiding Questions


What is coalition theory?
How do we explain which parties get into
government?
 What
do office based theories hypothesize?
 What do policy based theories hypothesize?
Parties at the Center of Government

Strom 1999


Democracies vary in terms of how they vest executive and
legislative authority


Attempt to prevent unchecked executive or legislature rule.
Classic theories predicated on the US (presidential)
and the UK (parliamentary) models.


Parties remain “at the core of government”
A long history in political theory.
Presidential and parliamentary systems posit very
different relationships between the executive and the
legislature.
Reviewing Presidentialism and
Parliamentarism
PRESIDENTIALISM


President: head of state
and head of government
Separate origin




Executive and legislative
branches are elected
separately.
Both branches are elected for
a fixed term.
Cabinet members do not sit in
the legislative branch.
PARLIAMENTARISM



Separate survival

Neither branch can remove
the other except in
extraordinary circumstances.

Prime Minister: head of government
 PM/Cabinet-collective executive
Monarch/president: head of state
Shared origin:
 Only legislature is directly
elected.
 Terms are not fixed.
 PM /Cabinet come from the
legislature
Shared survival:
 Confidence relationship exists
between executive and
legislature
Confidence Relationship


Concept of responsible government defines
parliamentary systems.
PM and his or her government must have the confidence
of the chamber (majority support).
Legislature possesses authority to express no confidence in
the executive.
 Governments must resign if they lose a vote of confidence.


Executive (PM) has powers of dissolution.


PM can typically dissolve the parliament and call for new
elections at any time.
Strong party discipline is critical in parliamentary
systems.
Coalition Theory

Many parliamentary systems use proportional representation to elect
representatives.




Coalition theory examines why certain parties enter government and others
do not.
Following an election there are many possible coalitions.



This makes it difficult for one party to win more than 50% of the seats.
Parties wishing to enter government have to create a coalition that cannot be
defeated on a confidence vote.
But not all are feasible.
Some parties are always in government while others are always in opposition.
Why are certain parties more likely to enter government while others do
not seek to enter government at all?

Literature offers both office based and policy based motivations for entering
government
Office Seeking Theories:
Minimal Winning Coalitions

Von Neumann and Morgenstern 1953
 Theory
is “policy blind”
 Conceives of government formation as a zero sum
game over the spoils of office


Hypothesis: Minimal winning coalitions will form.
Minimal winning coalitions:


Coalitions where every party is critical to maintaining a
majority (i.e. no superfluous parties).
Observations: From 1945-1987, 35% of coalitions
formed followed this pattern.
Office Seeking Coalitions: Minimum
Winning Coalitions





In large systems, several minimal winning coalitions
are possible.
How do parties choose between minimal winning
coalitions?
Riker 1962
Hypothesis: Parties want to boost their bargaining
weight within a coalition, thus minimum winning
coalitions will form.
Minimum winning coalitions:

Coalitions consisting of parties with the smallest total weight.
Iceland 1983
WL
WL-3
SD-6
TOTAL SEATS: 60






37: IP/PP
34: PP/PA/SD/SDF
33: IP/PA; IP/SD/SDF; PP/PA/SD/WL
32: IP/SD/WL
31: PP/PA/SDF/WL
1 minimum winning coalition (minimal winning with smallest weight):


PA-10
PP-14
MAJORITY: 31
63 possible coalitions.
7 possible minimal winning coalitions (no superfluous parties):


SDF-4
31: PP/PA/SDF/WL
End result: IP and PP coalition.
IP-23
Office Seeking Theories:
Minimal Connected Winning Coalitions





Questions of which minimal coalition should be chosen still plagued
these theories.
Axelrod 1970
 Policy “compatibility” reduces the number of viable coalitions and
eases bargaining.
Hypothesis: Minimal connected winning coalitions will form.
Minimal connected winning coalitions:
 Minimal winning coalitions made up of parties which are
ideological “neighbors”
Loss of one party leaves a coalition which is either:
 1) no longer winning
 2) no longer connected
Italy 1972
PCI 179
PSI 61 PSDI 29
PRI 15 DC 267 PLI 20
630 TOTAL SEATS-MAJORITY IS 316-3 OTHER


127 coalitions were possible.
3 were minimal connected winning (MCW):





PSI/PSDI/PRI/DC
PSDI/PRI/DC/PLI
DC/PLI/MSI.
Any coalition including the MSI or the PCI was not an option.
Five coalitions formed before new elections were held.
MSI 56
Italy 1972-Revolving Coalitions





1st: DC minority
government (267).
2nd: DC coalition (minimum
winning-316).
3rd: DC coalition (minimal
connected winning-372).
4th: DC coalition (surplus
majority-357 seats)
5th: DC minority
government (282).
Evaluating Office Based Theories


Pure office based theories cannot address:
1) Why surplus parties are ever included in a
governing coalition?
 Example:

2) Why minority governments form?
 Example:

Israel
Denmark
But policy based theories of coalition formation can.
Policy Based Theories: Issue Dimensions

Laver and Schofield 1998.
 Parties
enter winning coalitions that will adopt their
preferred policy.

Party controlling the median voter serves as the
“pivot” within the legislature.
 Sees
the party holding the median voter as a “policy
dictator”

Hypothesis: Coalitions will include the party holding
the median legislator.
Denmark 1966
SFP 20
SD 69
RV 13
V 34
KFP 35
179 SEATS TOTAL. 8 OTHERS. MAJ = 90

The median legislator is a Social Democrat (SD).



Any viable coalition would require SD support.
Result: SD formed a minority government.
Defeating the SD would require parties of the left and the right
to coalesce.

Unlikely. So a party could govern without holding a majority of
seats.
Conclusions


Median parties are well placed in coalition
bargaining talks.
Laver and Schofield 1998:
 More
than 80% of coalitions from 1945-1987 included
or were supported by the median party.

To suggest that parties care about policy does not
mean that they do not possess office seeking goals.
 Understanding
government formation requires us to
look at BOTH policy and office goals.
Case Study: Ireland

Examine
 How the Irish political environment shapes party options.
 How do Irish parties typically rank policy, office, and votes?
 Labour’s coalition decisions
 What were the tradeoffs made between policy and votes in
negotiations with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael?
 Fine Gael’s (FG) Tallaght Strategy
 What did FG get out of supporting its nemesis in government?
 Fianna Fail’s (FF) decision to form a coalition.
 Why did a party that used to govern alone become willing to share
the spoils of office?
Case Study: Denmark

Examine:
 Why
were minority governments so viable within the
Danish case?
 That
is, why would a party seek to form a minority coalition?
 Why would other parties prefer to remain in opposition
rather than defeat a minority government?
 Why
do parties prefer to be seen as advancing policy
rather than office based motives?
Next Lecture

Theme: Party Systems
 Ware

pgs. 5-13
Theme: Party Systems (Competition Models)
 Ware
CH 5
 Electronic Reserves: Sartori
 Mueller and Strom pgs. 141-171

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