Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 2, issue 3

James N. Druckman, "Party Factionalism and Cabinet Durability," Party Politics, 2 (July, 1996), 397-407.

First Paragraph:
Nearly a century ago, A. Lawrence Lowell (1896: 73-4) put forth his 'axiom of politics' that 'the larger the number of discordant groups that form the majority, the harder the task of pleasing them all, and the more feeble and unstable the position of the cabinet' (Lijphart, 1984: 108-10). Despite this early beginning, the cross-national study of cabinet maintenance experienced a long hiatus such that in 1970, Sven Groennings commented: 'Although coalition government is the norm in European multiparty systems, scholars have offered hardly any generalizations about coalition maintenance or behavior within coalitions' (Groennings, 1970: 459). While the latter topic continues to receive limited attention (Laver and Shepsle, 1994), the former experienced a flurry of activity soon after Groennings's observation (e.g. Axelrod, 1970: 175; Taylor and Herman, 1971; Dodd, 1976) and has remained a topic of interest. Recently, a number of methodological and substantive advances have been made (e.g. King et al., 1990; Warwick, 1994; Lupia and Str¯m, 1995), although much remains to be done. Indeed, one only need turn to Groennings's article to discover a number of unexplored hypotheses about the role of intra-party characteristics in coalition termination (Groennings, 1970: 454).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. Party factionalism scores by country
Table 2. Exponential survival models of cabinet duration

Last Paragraph:
In sum, recognition that coalition politics involve a dynamic interplay between and within parties will increase our understanding of coalition behavior. Indeed, 'what is really interesting and important about coalition government...may be left out by theories that cannot accommodate themselves to the processes of intraplay decision making' (Laver and Schofield, 1990; see also Daalder, 1983: 21).