Government partisanship in Western democracies, 1945–1998



Abstract. In this article, we put forward a continuous measure of government partisanship, which allows meaningful comparisons across countries and across time, for 17 Western democracies for the period of 1945 through 1998. Our measure is predicated upon a manifesto-based measure of party ideology recently developed by Kim and Fording (1998), along with yearly cabinet post data. After discussing the validity of our measure, we replicate one of the most cited works in comparative political economy over the last ten years – Alvarez, Garrett and Lange's (1991) analysis of economic performance – by utilizing our own measure of government partisanship. We conclude that comparativists need to exercise greater caution in interpreting and evaluating the past findings of a large number of multivariate studies in comparative politics.