With Friends Like These: Party Organization and Intra Party Watchdogs in Parliamentary Government

24 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2013

See all articles by Christian Jensen

Christian Jensen

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Zachary Greene

University of Mannheim

Date Written: 2013


Consistent with Theis’ (2001) keeping tabs argument, evidence is mounting that political parties use junior ministerial appointments in governing coalitions to monitor cabinet ministers held by their ideologically extreme coalition partners. However, this logic does not easily explain junior ministerial appointments on ministers from the same party. We build on previous analyses by constructing a theory that highlights the role of intra-party decision-making structures and the need for oversight of co-partisans. We predict that parties with liberal candidate selection rules face incentives to use oversight mechanisms, such as junior ministers, to monitor the behavior of members of their own party in government. Parties with more hierarchical candidate selection procedures limit the selection of more divergent members of parliament and therefore limit the need for additional oversight mechanisms. Using data on party organizational structures from the Katz and Mair data handbook for parties in five Western European democracies from 1960-1990, we find evidence that more hierarchically organized parties place fewer junior ministers on their own ministers than parties with more open party structures. Parties also use intra-party junior ministers to oversee their own ministers on highly salient issues, even when party leaders have substantial control over the candidate selection process. The results from our analysis further illustrate the role of junior ministers as a method of facilitating oversight in coalition settings and add one way in which intra-party politics plays an important role in coalition governance.

Keywords: Political Parties, Coalition Government, Intra-Party Politics, Issue Salience

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Christian and Greene, Zachary, With Friends Like These: Party Organization and Intra Party Watchdogs in Parliamentary Government (2013). APSA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper, American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2299982

Christian Jensen (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas ( email )

4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

Zachary Greene

University of Mannheim ( email )

Universitaetsbibliothek Mannheim
Mannheim, 68131

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