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Coalition politics and accountability

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  • Kiss, Áron

Abstract

The paper introduces the possibility of coalition government into the theoretical study of political accountability and analyzes the accountability of coalitions as a problem of team production. It is shown that coalition governments can be held accountable in the presence of an electoral alternative. Accountability becomes problematic if it is certain that at least one of the coalition parties stays in power after the elections. Such a coalition (sometimes called a ‘unity government’) cannot be given appropriate collective incentives. To incentivize government performance, voters make one coalition party responsible for the outcome. This, however, makes the other coalition party interested in sabotage. The paper analyzes the resulting conflict and characterizes optimal voter strategy. -- In dieser Arbeit wird die theoretische Analyse der politischen Verantwortlichkeit auf die Situation einer Koalitionsregierung angewandt. Reduziert auf den vertragstheoretischen Kern des Problems stellen Koalitionsregierungen ein ‘Teamprodukt’ für den Wähler als Prinzipal her, wobei der ‘Vertrag’ zwischen Wählern und Koalitionsregierung sehr spezifisch und jedenfalls unvollständig ist. Es wird gezeigt, dass die Disziplinierbarkeit einer Koalition unproblematisch ist, wenn eine wahre Wahlalternative vorhanden ist. Die Disziplinierbarkeit (also die politische Verantwortlichkeit) wird problematisch in einer Situation, in der sich eine Koalition verschiedener Parteien ergibt, zu der es keine echte mehrheitsfähige Alternative gibt, und die als ‘Große Koalition’ bezeichnet werden soll. Die Besonderheit der Großen Koalition ist, dass mindestens eine der beteiligten Parteien mit Sicherheit nach den nächsten Wahlen weiterregiert. Nur Teile der Regierung können abgewählt werden; die große Koalition als Einheit kann in dieser Situation von den Wählern nicht in toto ‘belohnt’ oder ‘bestraft’ werden. Die Arbeit beschreibt die beste Strategie des repräsentativen Wählers in einem stilisierten politischen System, in dem die ‘Große Koalition’ regiert. Es wird gezeigt, dass der Wähler den Regierungspolitikern nur dann Anreize setzen kann, wenn er eine der Regierungsparteien für die Regierungspolitik verantwortlich macht. Dies führt jedoch zu einem Konflikt zwischen den Regierungsparteien, weil es die jeweils andere Regierungspartei zu Sabotage animiert.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Market Processes and Governance with number SP II 2009-01.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmpg:spii200901

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Cited by:
  1. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2010. "Political Competition And Politician Quality: Evidence From Italian Municipalities," Working Papers 201005, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza (Ex Dipartimento di Economia e Statistica).
  2. Kiss, Áron, 2012. "Divisive politics and accountability," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 208-214.

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