Legislative Review and Party Differentiation in Coalition Governments

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Multiparty governance requires compromise and this compromise can lead to electoral losses. I argue that coalition members are motivated to differentiate themselves from their cabinet partners to mitigate potential electoral losses resulting from voters perceiving them as not rigorously pursuing their core policy positions or not possessing strong policy stands. I test this argument with original data on the scrutiny of over 2,200 government bills gathered from three parliamentary democracies incorporating information on voter perceptions of partisan ideology and parties’ policy preferences as derived from their manifestos. I find that coalition partners that are perceived as more similar will amend one another’s legislative proposals more vigorously in an effort to differentiate in the eyes of the electorate—to protect their brand—and therefore provide evidence for “pure” vote-seeking behavior in the legislative review process. Furthermore, these original data provide answers to several open questions regarding the policy motivations of cabinet parties in legislative review and the role of committee chairs and external support parties on policy outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)242-247
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

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