• Veto Players;
  • Budgetary Politics;
  • Germany

In this article we examine whether and how the policy-oriented coalition building and the gridlock model of legislative choice explain changes in the allocation of German budgetary items between 1961 and 1994. The policy-oriented coalition-building approach suggests that only policy-connected budgetary actors can make changes in the budgetary composition, while the location of the status quo is essential for budgetary modifications according to the gridlock model. We also draw the attention to the identification of the set of relevant budgetary veto players and their preferences by distinguishing between models of the government, the political parties of the Bundestag, and the two of them. We test the predictive power of these approaches and conceptions in a competitive manner and control for macroeconomic and other political factors that might influence changes in the budgetary allocation. Our findings show that the gridlock model better explains budgetary changes, and that the government is responsible for decreasing, but the political parties of the Bundestag majority are decisive for increasing the size of budgetary items. We conclude that identifying the relevant veto players and using these more sophisticated approaches on budgetary decision making provide significant insights into the political reasons for changing the allocation of the German budget.