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Keywords:

  • cabinet size;
  • ministers;
  • portfolios;
  • coalitions;
  • bargaining

Abstract

A large literature examines the composition of cabinets in parliamentary systems, but very little attention has been paid to the size of those cabinets. Yet not only is the size of the cabinet related to the division of portfolios that may take place, cabinet size is also related to policy outcomes. In this article, a theory of party size is considered which examines how coalition bargaining considerations, intra-party politics and efficiency concerns affect the size of cabinets. Hypotheses derived from the theory are examined using an extensive cross-national dataset on coalition governments which allows us to track changes in cabinet size and membership both across and within cabinets.