The impact of parties on the survival of coalition governments. Intra-party unity and the interdependence structure of coalition governments.

Although theoretical work on coalition government survival emphasizes the importance of intra-party politics, few studies examine them empirically. Using novel data on extra-parliamentary party features in 19 countries, I analyze the impact of intra-party unity on government survival. I propose a new method to account for the complex multilevel structure of coalition government data resulting from parties being nested within often multiple governments and both parties and governments being nested within countries. The method allows testing theories on the interplay of coalition parties in their conjoint effect on governments. The results indicate that internally divided parties destabilize the constituting coalitions. This effect, however, is contingent upon the power structure among coalition parties and the complexity of the coordination problem. The evidence points to a crucial role of organizational features that empower party members in producing disunity. Consequently, while intra-party democracy serves many purposes, it impairs coalition governance. These results allow me to revisit untested hypotheses. I find evidence for Strøm’s (1990) theory of political parties, Katz and Maier’s (1995) cartel-party hypothesis, but not for Gamson’s law (1961).

A draft is available upon request.

  • Paper is under review
  • Presented at the 2019 American Political Science Association Conference, at the 2018 Sunbelt Conference, as well as at the 2016 and 2017 ECPR Winter School in Methods and Techniques
  • Shortlisted (2nd) for the 2018 research master thesis prize of the Dutch Sociological Association, competing with all sociology master programs in the Netherlands
  • Awarded the 2017 ‘Best Poster’ prize, competing with students from all master programs at Utrecht University.