Coalition Government and Party Mandate

How Coalition Agreements Constrain Ministerial Action

By Catherine Moury

© 2013 – Routledge

164 pages | 43 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-09-12
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About the Book

Which kind of decisions are passed by Cabinet in coalition governments? What motivates ministerial action? How much leeway do coalition parties give their governmental representatives?

This book focuses on a comparative study of ministerial behaviour in Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands. It discredits the assumption that ministers are ‘policy dictators’ in their spheres of competence, and demonstrates that ministers are consistently and extensively constrained when deciding on policies. The first book in a new series at the forefront of research on social and political elites, this is an invaluable insight into the capacity and power of coalition government across Europe.

Looking at policy formation through coalition agreements and the effectiveness of such agreements, Coalition Government and Party Mandate will be of interest to students and scholars of comparative politics, governance and European politics.


"Professor Moury has provided us with the first true comparative empirical understanding of what goes on inside Western Europen coalition governments. She does so by examining in depth the part which 'coalition agremements' play and shows that part to be truly very large. As a result of her many empirical findings, moreover, one overall conclusion which emerges is that, deep down, coalition agreements help to maintain the true nature of cabinet govenrment: they do so by promoting 'collectivism' against the widespread tendency of prime ministers to assume a controlling function and against the potentially overwhelming desire of parties - and in particular of party leaders - to dominate the actions of cabinet ministers." - Jean Blondel, Professor Emeritus of The European University Institute

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Theorizing coalition agreements 3. Methodological choices 4. case study one: Germany (by Catherine Moury and Mark Ferguson) 5. case study two: Belgium 6. case study three: the Netherlands (by Catherine Moury and Arco Timmermans) 7. case study four: Italy 8. Coalition agreements and Cabinet decision-making in four countries 9. Explaining variation across cases: Preliminary Findings 10. Conclusion

About the Author

Catherine Moury is Assistant Professor at NOVA University, Lisbon, and researcher at CIES-IUL. Her research focuses on institutional change in the European Union and on coalition governments.

About the Series

Routledge Research on Social and Political Elites

All political systems are governed by ruling elites – presidents, prime ministers, ministers, civil servants, judges, mayors and councillors all play important roles in running our lives, while beyond the state people are picked to run international organizations. Social elites, such as global business or media tycoons, religious or ethnic leaders, play a major role influencing public policy. The books in this series examine all such political and social elites within local, national and international arenas. We are interested in theoretical and empirical analyses of elites. Whilst elites have been studied in the past, modern computing and electronic data-collection facilities mean that for the first time comprehensive information on the personal characteristics of elites, including factors such as birthplace, age, and social and educational background, can relatively easily be gathered. We can explore the ways in which people enter the elite, the networks they form and the policies they effect. Modern techniques open up exciting opportunities to examine our governors, their actions and interactions in more detail than ever before.

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