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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
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
what are the stakes2
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
what are the stakes3
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.
office motivation
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
office motivation5
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”)
office motivation6
Office Motivation
  • Spoils of office
    • Portfolios
    • Difference between systems
    • Non-ministerial appointments
    • Votes in cabinet
      • Admits policy concern
    • Patronage
policy motivation
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
policy motivation8
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
policy motivation9
Policy Motivation
  • Lesson
    • Motivation?
    • Strategies
      • Extremes as fanatics
      • Center as opportunists
  • Policy motivation and the production of public goods
    • What about ‘the right’?
policy dimensions
Policy Dimensions
  • Policy Dimensions & Policy Space

Christian Democrats







policy dimensions11
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
achieving policy objectives
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
achieving policy objectives13
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
office as a means to an end
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
office as a means to an end15
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
office as a means to an end16
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
policy as a means to an end
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
policy as a means to an end18
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
  • …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