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The Vote of Confidence. The executive is responsible to the legislature in parliamentary systems Exceptions: France: PM also responsible to the President Switzerland: The executive can not be removed All other: The Cabinet needs the Legislature’s support . The Vote of Confidence.

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the vote of confidence
The Vote of Confidence
  • The executive is responsible to the legislature in parliamentary systems
    • Exceptions:
      • France: PM also responsible to the President
      • Switzerland: The executive can not be removed
    • All other: The Cabinet needs the Legislature’s support
the vote of confidence3
The Vote of Confidence
  • When does the Cabinet need the support of the legislature?
    • During formation
      • Investiture Vote
    • If challenged
      • Vote of no-confidence
  • Figure 4.1 – Lifecycle of government
the lifecycle
The Lifecycle
  • Various types of rules/institutions exist
    • Role of Head of State
    • Formal Investiture Vote
    • Resignation after a loss of Vote of No-Confidence
    • Cabinet’s ability to dissolve the Legislature
    • The Legislature’s ability to dissolve itself
    • Maximum time between elections
votes of confidence
‘Votes of Confidence’
  • A formal Investiture Vote is not required everywhere
  • A Vote of No-Confidence always exists (except Switzerland)
  • A loss on a normal vote is not fatal
  • Often, however, followed by a confidence vote
votes of confidence6
‘Votes of Confidence’
  • The Vote of Confidence is a double edged sword
    • Allows the legislature to remove cabinet
    • Allows the cabinet to raise the stakes of the legislative game
      • Fianna Fail minority cabinet in 1998
      • Haughey (PM or Taoiseach) threatens to resign if the legislature rejects the cabinet’s proposal
      • Role of threat and popularity
      • Elsewhere, e.g., in France, formal procedures exist
viable effective government
Viable & Effective Government
  • The ability to win votes of no confidence is crucial
    • Viable governments/cabinets
  • The ability to win other votes is also important
    • Effective governments/cabinets
  • A cabinet may be viable but not effective
viable vs effective
Viable vs. Effective
  • Politically it is unlikely to observe a viable but ineffective cabinet
    • Electoral costs of ineffectiveness
  • What determines viability?
    • Legislative support
    • Cabinet parties – role of cohesion
    • Non-cabinet parties - ?
  • Cabinet vs. legislative coalitions
  • A party in legislative coalition but not cabinet coalition is called a ‘support party’
viable vs effective cabinets
Viable vs. Effective Cabinets
  • Sometimes non-cabinet parties abstain
    • What does abstaining mean?
    • Parties/legislators can vote for, against or abstain.
    • Only two outcomes are possible
    • When an absolute majority is required, abstaining has the same effect as voting for.
legislative vs cabinet coalitions
Legislative vs. Cabinet Coalitions
  • Legislative and Cabinet Coalition may differ in composition
  • The only ‘need to coincide’ on votes of confidence
  • A focus on cabinet coalitions downplays the importance of the legislature
    • Threats of votes of no-confidence, committee influence, etc.
legislative vs cabinet coalitions11
Legislative vs. Cabinet Coalitions
  • Equating ‘winning’ with a legislative majority
    • Minimal winning coalitions
    • Policy motivation – public goods production
    • Implications for minority & surplus cabinets
  • Minority cabinets can be viable
    • If parties are policy motivated
viable minority cabinets
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Minority cabinets are quite frequent
    • 33% of all cabinets
    • 37% of all cabinets when no cabinet holds a majority
  • Only 42% are minimal winning
  • Differences across countries
    • Sweden, Denmark, Norway – Minority
    • Finland, Italy - Surplus
viable minority cabinets13
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Minority cabinets as deviations
    • Waiting for a new majority (caretaker)
    • ‘Immobilisme’ thesis
    • Almost a majority
  • The ‘Almost a majority’ explanation accounts for many coalitions
  • But why?
  • Office seeking politicians will never tolerate a minority cabinet
viable minority cabinets14
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Policy-Seeking and Minority Cabinets
  • Policy benefits both parties in and out of cabinet
    • Parties out of cabinet may support cabinet if it favors the cabinet’s policies
    • How much better of is the party if in the cabinet
    • Opportunities to influence policy in opposition
    • Cost of governing
    • Long term goals (waiting for defeat)
viable minority cabinets15
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Oppositional influence
    • Extra-governmental institutions
    • Legislative structures and norms (Strom)
    • Helps account for Scandinavian countries, France, Italy
    • Does not help explain Belgium, Iceland Portugal
viable minority cabinets16
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Luebbert: Party leaders want to remain party leaders
    • Consensual vs. Unconsolidated Systems
    • Consensual -> Corporatism
    • Under Corporatism policy is made, to a greater degree, outside the legislature
    • Allows party leaders to take firm stands on policy but stay outside the policy bargaining
    • Explains Scandinavia but fails in Austria (corporatist but no minority coalitions)
viable minority cabinets17
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • An alternative approach:
    • Focus on policy-viable coalitions
    • Policy-viable coalitions are preferred to other potential coalitions because of their policy preferences







viable minority cabinets18
Viable Minority Cabinets
  • Italy
    • Christian Democrats
    • Hold a sizeable share of the legislative seats
    • ‘Centrally’ located in the policy spectrum
    • Single-party minority DC cabinets ruled Italy for much of the period
surplus majority cabinets
Surplus Majority Cabinets
  • Office-seekers -> no extra parties
  • Surplus coalitions almost as common as minority coalitions
  • Finland, Italy, the Netherlands
  • Some reasons
    • Constitutional amendments
    • Low party discipline/cohesion
      • Are they surplus?
surplus majority cabinets20
Surplus Majority Cabinets
  • Some (bad) explanations:
    • Governments of national unity
      • Often called form, rarely form
  • The Italian pentapartito cabinets
    • Formed in 1981
    • Surplus – three non-essential parties
    • Yet coalition form, fell, formed again (.. & again…)
surplus majority cabinets21
Surplus Majority Cabinets
  • How do we then explain surplus cabinets?
  • Role of policy:
    • In the Italian pentapartito, the smaller parties are located, ideologically, between the larger coalition parties
  • Luebbert: More likely in ‘dominant party systems’
    • Dominant party’s attempt to lessen the ‘blackmail potential’ of minor parties
    • Depends on rules about cabinet resignation (influences costs)
surplus majority cabinets22
Surplus Majority Cabinets
  • Luebbert (cont.)
    • What is a dominant party?
      • In terms of votes, no minority party is
      • We have to look to policy to clarify the idea of a dominant party
      • Basically, a party located in the center of the policy space
    • Basically the same argument as for the existence of minority cabinets!
      • Italy & Finland fit the bill
  • The vote of confidence – the link between the executive and the legislature
  • Viable vs. Effective Government

-> Minority Cabinets are possible

-> Surplus Cabinets exist

-> Bargaining positions is important in explaining both