The impact of coalition parties on policy output – evidence from Germany

February 12, 2019

In a recent publication, Evelyne Hübscher examines how parties' ideological positions translate into cabinet policy positions on the one hand, and how the relative impact of parties on policy vary over the the legislative term, on the other. Both are crucial for our understanding of coalition politics and representative democracy. Using an original dataset of social security and budgetary laws from nine German coalition governments, the paper shows that on average, government parties influence cabinet policy positions according to their relative electoral strength. However, the relative impact of coalition parties varies significantly over the electoral cycle. While at the beginning of the term in office, the policy positions of the cabinet reflect the overall cabinet ideology, the policy positions move towards the position of the party representing the median when approaching the next election. This implies that the policy output of a coalition government reflects the coalitions preferences at the beginning of the legislative term but moves closer to the position representing the median, which can be interpreted as a vote seeking effort of the parties in government. 

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