Electoral Responsiveness, Legislative Institutions, and Government Policy in Parliamentary Democracies

46 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015

See all articles by Lanny W. Martin

Lanny W. Martin

Rice University - Department of Political Science

Georg Vanberg

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 15, 2015

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Martin, Lanny W. and Vanberg, Georg, Electoral Responsiveness, Legislative Institutions, and Government Policy in Parliamentary Democracies (December 15, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2704040 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2704040

Lanny W. Martin (Contact Author)

Rice University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Georg Vanberg

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

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