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Hanne Marthe Narud, "Party Policies and Government Accountability: A Comparison between The Netherlands and Norway," Party Politics, 2 (October 1996), 479-507.

First Paragraph:
This article deals with the accountability of coalition governments. How does government responsibility affect popular support for parties? And how are 'blame' or 'credit' assigned to members of a coalition government? The core of the so-called trade-off model, as formulated by Strom (1990a), is the conflict that parties commonly face between vote-seeking on the one hand,and policy and office-seeking on the other. Strom's model is based upon the notion that governing parties are judged by their performance, and forms the basis of theories of 'retrospective voting' (Fiorina, 1981). Governing parties may be held to more severe standards than opposition parties, particularly concerning consistency between promise and performance. In terms of vote-seeking it may therefore be a disadvantage to hold office -this can lead to a negative 'incumbency effect' (Strom, 1990a).

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Types of governments in Norway and The Netherlands, 1945-95.
Table 2: Electoral performance of governments in Norway and The Netherlands by type of government: Average percentage gain/loss in seats 1948-94.
Table 3: Gains and losses of Dutch and Norwegian coalition governments, 1948-94.
Table 4: Gains and losses for largest incumbent: Dutch and Norwegian coalitions, 1948-94.
Table 5: Electoral fate of parties in government, 1948-94.

Last Paragraph:
Our study has involved a limited number of cases from two single countries. Any serious attempt to explore hypotheses about the accountability of coalition governments should base itself on mass-elite studies from a range of countries. More mass survey data need to be developed, so as to permit analysis of the question of accountability for individual parties. All the same, this two-country comparison has generated insight and knowledge about the impact of contextual factors upon the relevant actors. It takes us beyond mere figures and allows for a detailed analysis of the political process in which political institutions,historical cleavages as well as individual characteristics of the actors involved play an important role. These factors may constitute a fruitful framework for future analyses.