This title was first published in 2003.This informative text deals with the emergence of coalition agreements, their contents, the problem of enforcement and with the question of whether or not the functions are performed in practice. It explores the idea that policy bargaining in government formation is not just an isolated process, but that it is a real chance for parties to deal with substantive and controversial issues at an early stage. The coalition agreements in which these issues are incorporated have become important in most multiparty systems, but they have received little attention in political science research. This book argues that more systematic attention for these institutional variables is highly useful in coalition research because it helps to explain processes and outcome in coalition politics.
'The importance of this book goes well beyond its contribution to our understanding of governmental politics in The Netherlands and Belgium. It is a pioneer study linking two aspects of coalition politics that have been studied in curious isolation from each other: the study of coalition formation and the analysis of coalition governance. In a series of detailed case studies, Timmermans uses the coalition agreement to show how and under which conditions this result of inter-party negotiations before taking office, has an impact on the policies as well as the survival of the government after taking office. It should be required reading for all serious students of coalition politics.' Professor Rudy B. Andeweg, Leiden University, The Netherlands. '"High Politics in the Low Countries' is a pioneering empirical analysis of the effect of coalition agreements on decision-making processes in cabinets. On the basis of a detailed study of a number of Belgian and Dutch cases, Arco Timmermans can show conclusively that coalition agreements are not just symbolic gestures without practical consequences. The author can even go further and stipulate the conditions under which these agreements are likely to be most effective. This book is a MUST for all those who - and they are now numerous - are interested in the life and times of cabinets in Europe today.' J. Blondel, Past Professor of Political Science, European University Institute, Italy
Contents: Government formation and beyond: an empirical study; Bargaining, policy, and coalition agreements; Functions and effects of coalition agreements; Case studies: coalitions in Belgium and the Netherlands; The Leburton government (1973-74); The Tindemans V government (1977-78); The Van Agt II government (1981-82); The Lubbers I government (1982-86); The Kok I government (1994-98); The high politics of coalition agreements; Bibliography; Index.