In European parliamentary democracies political parties control candidate selection, maintain cohesion in the legislature and support governments. In addition to these classic functions, parties also organise the legislature delegating power to legislators, specifically as committee chairs and party coordinators. Delegation is inherently dangerous, involving potential agency loss. Parties, however, have ex-ante and ex-post institutional mechanisms to deal with agency problems. In this paper, a case study is made of the Portuguese legislature, arguing that parties make use of their pivotal role in selecting legislators as committee chairs and party coordinators to keep tabs on legislators to thwart shirking from the party line. This paper finds that political parties use incumbency as an ex-ante screening mechanism of committee chairs and party coordinators in looking for reliable signals of past behaviour to decrease uncertainty. Additionally, evidence suggests that extraparliamentary party structure is used as an institutional arena for ex-post control of party coordinators.
As semi-presidentialism has become increasingly common in European democracies, so have the debates about the consequences of several of its political and institutional features. In particular, in those regimes, cohabitation between presidents and cabinets of different parties and cabinet dismissal powers on the part of presidents are thought to be a source of inter-branch conflict and government instability.However, so far, most empirical work on government survival has failed to confirm any of these expectations. This article addresses this disjuncture between theory and empirical results by making a twofold contribution.
First, it takes into account the internal diversity within semi-presidentialism, modeling the implications for government survival of different configurations between presidential powers’ of cabinet dismissal, parliament dissolution and cohabitation in European semi-presidential systems.
Second, it reconsiders traditional government survival using the competing risks framework by adding a distinction between two different types of non-electoral replacement: those where replacements imply a change in the party of the prime minister and those where they do not.Once such an approach is adopted, that presidential powers of parliamentary dissolution and cabinet dismissal indeed emerge as highly relevant for explaining government survival in these regimes.
This book chapter provides an analysis of cabinet formation after the German election of 22 September 2013. It starts with the observation that the election of 2013 brought a radical change to the German postwar party system as the FDP disappeared from the Bundestag. Given the likely need for more coalitions across the traditional divide between centre-left and centre-right (for example, grand coalitions of CDU/CSU and SPD or new coalitions between CDU/CSU and Greens), the chapter focuses on mechanisms of conflict management. Based on the comparative literature on the issue, he analyses coalition governance in the new grand coalition under Merkel. After the traditional bargaining between party elites, the SPD conducted a vote of all party members for the ratification of the bargaining result. This was an insurance policy for the party leadership vis-à-vis its rank and file, a reassurance for the CDU/CSU that the SPD was really committed to the new coalition, and a relatively successful bargaining tactic on the part of the SPD as it lent credibility to the various 'red lines' formulated by the SPD prior to the negotiations. One key aspect of coalition governance was the allocation of portfolios. Both parties secured control of those ministries whose jurisdictions were crucial to their attempts to claim issue ownership vis-à-vis core voters. After some initial support for the grand coalition, the negotiations were accompanied by growing public scepticism. One key point was that the legislative strength of the new coalition would be overwhelming (with around 80 per cent of the seats in the Bundestag), and that the two opposition parties, the Greens and the Left Party, would be too weak to mount a sustained and effective parliamentary opposition. In addition, media commentators missed the ‘big projects’ which the new government, Merkel III, would tackle. However, the deal the parties agreed on in 2013 seemed more like a package of small, if socially costly, policy measures reminiscent of the collective result of log-rolling. It is also argued that the new coalition is in a precarious situation. Whether it will last its entire term (until 2017) will depend on a number of factors, especially any 'exogenous shocks' that it may be subjected to. In particular, however, it will depend on the parties' constant evaluation of the electoral risks arising from the coalition.
This introduction to the edited volume "Germany After the 2013 Elections: Breaking the Mould of German Politics?" provides a brief factual account of the election and its result. This part is followed by a summary and contextualisation of the individual contributions to this volume.