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Asbjørn Skjæveland, "Modelling Government Formation in Denmark and Beyond," Party Politics, 15 (November 2009), 715-735. [Available at]

First paragraph:
According to Michael Laver, '[t]he making and breaking of governments is one of the most basic of all political processes. Political competition is typically structured as a choice between governments, and it is thus hardly surprising that government formation is of perennial fascination to political scientists' (1998: 1). Government formation in Denmark constitutes an intriguing puzzle: Danish expert observers generally agree that Danish government formation is largely a one-dimensional phenomenon, and thus great power is attributed to the median party, that is, the party that comprises the median legislator in parliament (Damgaard, 1969, 2000; Kaarsted, 1992; cf. Skjæveland, 2003: Ch. 4). This party has often been the small Social Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre). However, the Danish median party has frequently been out of government. Based on Damgaard (2000), Mu.ller and Strøm have found that the median party participated in only 42 percent of the governments formed from 1945 to 1998 (2000: 564). Instead, the Social Liberal Party (when median party) has made a choice and decided which side should form the government - whether it should be a Social Democratic-led government or a non-socialist government including the Liberal Party and often the Conservatives and possibly others.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. The Dual Power Base Model and the data (minimum sufficient Office Capacity: 30 MPs)

Second Paragraph of Conclusion:
Empirically, the model is very successful in the Danish case, Denmark being the Western European country where the median party most often has been out of government according to Mu.ller and Strøm (2000: 563-5). When combined with the displayed policy positions derived from multi-dimensional scaling of the parties' previous voting behaviour in parliament, the Dual Power Base Model gets the side right in 23 out of 25 government formations, including those in 2001, 5 and 7 which occurred after the model was developed. In practical terms, the model is good at predicting whether the Danish Social Democrats will form a government or the government will be non-socialist and include at least the Liberal Party but typically also the Conservative Party. Furthermore, it (post-)predicts six out of eight alternations in power correctly. The latter is important because when the government changes sides, the model does not benefit from the conservative bias in the data.

Last updated October 2009