We would like to thank two anonymous referees, as well as seminar participants at Texas A&M University and Florida State University for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this article.
Policing the Bargain: Coalition Government and Parliamentary Scrutiny
Article first published online: 12 DEC 2003
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 48, Issue 1, pages 13–27, January 2004
How to Cite
Martin, L. W. and Vanberg, G. (2004), Policing the Bargain: Coalition Government and Parliamentary Scrutiny. American Journal of Political Science, 48: 13–27. doi: 10.1111/j.0092-5853.2004.00053.x
- Issue published online: 12 DEC 2003
- Article first published online: 12 DEC 2003
Policymaking by coalition governments creates a classic principal-agent problem. Coalitions are comprised of parties with divergent preferences who are forced to delegate important policymaking powers to individual cabinet ministers, thus raising the possibility that ministers will attempt to pursue policies favored by their own party at the expense of their coalition partners. What is going to keep ministers from attempting to move policy in directions they favor rather than sticking to the “coalition deal”? We argue that parties will make use of parliamentary scrutiny of “hostile” ministerial proposals to overcome the potential problems of delegation and enforce the coalition bargain. Statistical analysis of original data on government bills in Germany and the Netherlands supports this argument. Our findings suggest that parliaments play a central role in allowing multiparty governments to solve intracoalition conflicts.