Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 20, Issue 5

Katrin Schermann and Laurenz Ennser-Jedenastik, "Explaining coalition-bargaining outcomes: Evidence from Austria, 2002-2008," Party Politics, 20 (September, 2014), 791-801. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol20/issue5/ ]

First paragraph:
Coalition governments are a regular feature of parliamentary democracies with electoral systems of proportional representation. In order to set up a viable coalition government, the parties involved need to strike a deal not only over the distribution of offices but also over the shape of future government policy. In most West European democracies, it has become a common procedure to put down and publish the result of these negotiations in written form (Müller and Strøm, 2008; Strøm and Müller, 1999). Recent studies indicate substantial agenda-setting power of such coalition agreements (Moury, 2009, 2011; Timmermans, 2003, 2006). Thus, for the general public they provide an outlook of the prospective government's intended course of action for a wide range of policy areas. In addition, for researchers focusing on negotiation outcomes they represent one of the most detailed and comprehensive data sources. Taking advantage of this wealth of information, this article uses coalition agreements to examine bargaining outcomes.

Table 1. Number of hard pledges in the election manifestos.
Table 2. Inter-coder reliability.
Table 3. Number of pledges in coalition agreements.
Table 4. Summary statistics of the independent variables (n=1071).
Table 5. Partial proportional odds model: Pledge adoption in the coalition agreement.
Figure 1. Effects of four dichotomous variables on probability of full adoption.

Last Paragraph:
To sum up, our study constitutes an attempt in applying the methodology developed by the party mandate literature to a central aspect of coalition research. To the best of our knowledge, it represents the most detailed account of the determinants of policy outcomes from coalition-bargaining to date. While numerous studies exist about policy payoffs in coalition formation at a very general level, little attention has been devoted to examining coalition-bargaining outcomes in more detail, thus leaving the 'information depth' in election manifestos and coalition agreements under-utilized. We therefore conclude that measuring coalition policy at the level of concrete pledges is worthwhile, as it is closer to actual coalition-bargaining over specific issues and allows for analytical insights that more abstract models might miss.

Last updated November 2014