Do Minority Cabinets Govern More Flexibly and Inclusively? Evidence from Germany

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  • Steffen Ganghof
  • Sebastian Eppner
  • Christian Stecker
  • Katja Heeß
  • Stefan Schukraft
A widespread view in political science is that minority cabinets govern more flexibly and inclusively, more in line with a median-oriented and 'consensual' vision of democracy. Yet there is only little empirical evidence for it. We study legislative coalition-building in the German state of North-Rhine-Westphalia, which was ruled by a minority government between 2010 and 2012. We compare the inclusiveness of legislative coalitions under minority and majority cabinets, based on 1028 laws passed in the 1985–2017 period, and analyze in detail the flexibility of legislative coalition formation under the minority government. Both quantitative analyses are complemented with brief case studies of specific legislation. We find, first, that the minority cabinet did not rule more inclusively. Second, the minority cabinet’s legislative flexibility was fairly limited; to the extent that it existed, it follows a pattern that cannot be explained on the basis of the standard spatial model with policy-seeking parties.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGerman Politics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)541-561
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 02.10.2019

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© 2019, © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.