Marco Improta


Coalition governments have prompted a stream of prominent research since the birth of modern political science. Several studies have been performed on the lifecycles of cabinets, focusing particularly on their formation and duration. The first investigations into such issues were carried out using game theoretic approaches. In their ground-breaking works, William Riker and Lawrence Dodd argued that office-seeking outcomes, i.e. minimal winning coalitions, are more frequent and stable than other cabinet types. However, more recent research suggests that this proposition is disputable. By relying on an original multilevel dataset on West European cabinets, this study examines the actual rationality of minimal winning coalitions by asking whether they have been more recurrent than different government formulae, as predicted by game theory. The analysis finds that such coalitions have not been formed more frequently than non-rational cabinet solutions, i.e., oversized majority cabinets. In addition, the article showcases that minimal winning coalitions may occur in both polarised and less polarised West European political systems. By shedding light on office-based game theoretic propositions and their observable empirical records, this study contributes to the scientific examination of a fundamental stage of democratic governance in Western Europe.


Article Keywords

minimal winning coalitions, office seeking, government formation, government duration, Western Europe

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