The political dynamics of portfolio design in European democracies

Ulrich Sieberer, Thomas Meyer, Hanna Bäck, Andrea Ceron, Albert Falcó-Gimeno, Isabelle Guinaudeau, Martin Ejnar Hansen, Kristoffer Kolltveit, Tom Louwerse, Wolfgang C. Müller, Thomas Persson

The design of government portfolios – that is, the distribution of competencies among government ministries and office holders – has been largely ignored in the study of executive and coalition politics. This article argues that portfolio design is a substantively and theoretically relevant phenomenon that has
major implications for the study of institutional design and coalition politics. The authors use comparative data on portfolio design reforms in nine Western European countries since the 1970s to demonstrate how the design of government portfolios changes over time. Specifically, they show that portfolios are changed frequently (on average about once a year) and that such shifts are more likely after changes in the prime ministership or the party composition of the government. These findings suggest a political logic behind these reforms based on the preferences and power of political parties and politicians. They have major implications for the study of institutional design and coalition politics.

Department of Government
External organisation(s)
Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Universitat de Barcelona, Brunel University London, University of Oslo (UiO), Leiden University, Uppsala University, Universität Mannheim, Universität Konstanz, Lund University, Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV
British Journal of Political Science
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506014 Comparative politics, 506012 Political systems
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