What are the stakes
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What are the Stakes?. Office winning motivations Anthony Downs: ‘Parties formulate policies to elections, rather than win elections in order to formulate policies’ William Riker: Theory of coalitions – with office as a fixed prize No attempts (for a long time) to connect the two theories.

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What are the Stakes?

  • Office winning motivations

  • Anthony Downs: ‘Parties formulate policies to elections, rather than win elections in order to formulate policies’

  • William Riker: Theory of coalitions – with office as a fixed prize

  • No attempts (for a long time) to connect the two theories

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What are the Stakes?

  • Voters

    • Concerned with policy

    • Forward looking

    • Expectations about coalitions

  • Politicians

    • Do things while they are in office

    • At the least, pretend to have preferences over policy

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What are the Stakes?

  • De Swann: Candidates care foremost about policy.

  • Not an unproblematic view either

    • If politicians only care about policy, why do parties compete for office

    • Policy is ultimately made in the legislature.

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Office Motivation

  • Two views:

    • An end in itself

    • Means to influence policy

  • If an end in itself there is only one way to win: Get into office

  • If ‘being in’ is the only thing that matters why not grand coalitions?

  • The office as a fixed prize

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Office Motivation

  • If a fixed prize, coalition formation is a competitive process of dividing up the pie.

    • Exclusivity?

    • A bigger share?

  • Degrees of incumbency

    • Prime Ministership

    • Foreign Affairs, Finance (“Status Ministries”)

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Office Motivation

  • Spoils of office

    • Portfolios

    • Difference between systems

    • Non-ministerial appointments

    • Votes in cabinet

      • Admits policy concern

    • Patronage

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Policy Motivation

  • Parties motivated by the strength of their policy preference

  • For example, Communist parties inflexible, Christian Democrats not

  • Italy

    • PCI – Italian Communist Party

    • The historic compromise of the post-war period

    • Abandon ideas of socialist transformation of state in favor of more moderate policies

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Policy Motivation

  • Italy (cont.)

    • PRI trying to avoid isolation.

    • Office seeking elements? Or instrumental behavior?

    • Christian Democrats (DC) as office seekers

    • DC strategy involves painting the PRI as ‘fanatics’ – rules them out as coalition partners

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Policy Motivation

  • Lesson

    • Motivation?

    • Strategies

      • Extremes as fanatics

      • Center as opportunists

  • Policy motivation and the production of public goods

    • What about ‘the right’?

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Policy Dimensions

  • Policy Dimensions & Policy Space

Christian Democrats







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Policy Dimensions

  • Problems with measuring

    • Euclidean space

    • Policies may be discrete

    • How do we position parties in the policy space:

      • Country studies

      • Expert surveys

      • Multidimensional scaling of roll-calling votes

      • Policy programmes/Manifestos

      • Mass Surveys

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Achieving Policy Objectives

  • If parties are policy motivates we must consider importance of holding office

  • If in opposition a party can influence policy:

    • In parliament: Votes, amendments, delays, concessions

    • Ability to make or break government (if pivotal)

    • Committees and other institutions

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Achieving Policy Objectives

  • Index of oppositional influence

    • Number of standing committees

    • Whether committees shadow ministries

    • Committee positions

    • Committee chairs

  • Is government membership necessary?

    • Government departments implement policy & make many minor policy choices

    • Formulation of policy

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Office as a means to an end

  • Executive influence

    • Cabinet makes many key decisions

    • How do cabinets make decisions?

      • Majority Rule

      • Unanimity

    • The role of cabinet portfolios

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Office as a means to an end

  • Party Hierarchy & Motivation

    • Party members may have different motivations

    • Party leaders/elite tend to emphasize compromise and cabinet participation

    • Regular members may adhere more strictly to policy

      • E.g., U.K. Labour

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Office as a means to an end

  • Ireland’s Labour Party

    • Coalition with Fine Gael

    • Cuts in public spending

    • Labour: “What would have happened if..?”

    • Break-up of 1992-1997 coalition

      • Allows Labour to make the argument that their presence actually had a moderating influence

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Policy as a means to an end

  • Models of electoral competition have assumed office-seeking politicians

  • Coalition theories – policy considered important

  • Policy a vehicle to win elections

  • Politicians only concerned about policy to the extent that it helps them win elections

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Policy as a means to an end

  • A complete theory has to address both elections and coalition formation

  • Furthermore, we would also like to be able to say how past events influence future coalitions

  • When policy is instrumental, it is only important in terms of the opportunities a particular policy provides

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  • …what does winning mean?

  • Possibilities:

    • Office seekers using policy

    • Policy seekers needing to win office

    • Policy seekers not caring about office

    • The shadow of the future

  • ‘Winning’ is not simple idea

  • Usually the need to win office (for whatever reason) is emphasized