Electoral Responsiveness, Legislative Institutions, and Government Policy in Parliamentary Democracies
46 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 15, 2015
A central normative claim in favor of liberal democracy is that it promotes the continuing responsiveness of the government to the preferences of its citizens. In most of the world's democracies, however, governments are composed of multiple political parties, making the connection between policy and citizen preferences tenuous. This raises a critical question: Whose preferences are ultimately reflected in coalition policy choices? Recent theoretical developments argue that party influence in coalition governments critically depends on the institutional context in which these governments operate. In the presence of institutions that allow credible enforcement of policy bargains, coalition policy should reflect a compromise among the positions of the governing parties. In the absence of such institutions, parties that control relevant portfolios should dominate policy choices. Significantly, however, current empirical work does not provide direct evidence of the manner in which institutions condition the impact of party preferences on policy outcomes. In this study, we close this gap by providing systematic cross-national evidence that the strength of legislative institutions significantly impacts which parties are effective in shaping policy. These findings have important implications for our understanding of coalition governance, electoral responsiveness, and democratic representation.
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