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Partisan veto players in Australia, Denmark, Finland and Germany: Government status and legislative behavior


  • Ganghof, Steffen
  • Bräuninger, Thomas


In parliamentary systems, parties compete for votes and offices in the electoral arena but in many systems they also cooperate in the legislative arena. This paper examines the question of whether the government status of parties affects their legislative behaviour and, hence, policy outcomes. We develop a simple veto player model that includes parties' positional goals (vote, office, etc.) to formalize the notion of accommodating legislative behaviour. The model predicts that government parties are most accommodating while opposition parties are least accommodating. The hypothesis is then tested by comparing two pairs of most similar political systems: Danish and Finnish coalition governments, as well as German and Australian bicameralism. The case studies support the main hypothesis that government status systematically affects parties' level of accommodation. We conclude that this has important implications for the two major approaches in comparative institutional analysis advanced by Lijphart (1999) and Tsebelis (2002). Whilst Lijphart's distinction between joint and divided responsibility cannot provide a consistent theoretical rationale of his twodimensional map of democracies, Tsebelis' conception of purely policy-seeking actors may be insufficient to adequately identify veto players in comparative research.

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  • Ganghof, Steffen & Bräuninger, Thomas, 2003. "Partisan veto players in Australia, Denmark, Finland and Germany: Government status and legislative behavior," MPIfG Working Paper 03/11, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0311

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