Extending the Coalition Life-cycle Approach to Central Eastern Europe – An Introduction

Wolfgang C. Müller, Torbjörn Bergman, Gabriella Ilonszki

This chapter makes the case for studying coalition politics in Central Eastern Europe (CEE). A focus on CEE not only fills a research gap in terms of geographic coverage but also opens up the opportunity of out-of-sample theory testing, mitigating the notorious large-p-small-N problem in coalition research, and extending the theoretical framework by incorporating explanatory factors particularly relevant in CEE countries. Within the coalition life-cycle coalition governance – its central stage between coalition formation and termination – is the stage which constitutes the greatest lacuna in coalition research.
The main problem of coalition governance is the multi-party nature of governments, with the coalition parties often having conflicting policy preferences, desiring the same offices as their partners, and competing with each other in the next elections. This constellation may lead to conflict within and between the coalition parties, cabinet instability, and policy stalemate. Coalition buildes can contain these dangers by choosing the right partners, dividing the spoils wisely, and by employing various mechanisms to manage intra-party politics and, in particular, inter-party relations (giving credibility to commitments, providing mutual information, and making decisions jointly). The resulting modes of coalition governance take three ideal-typical forms: the Ministerial Government Model, the Coalition Compromise Model, and the Dominant Prime Minister Model.
Turning to the coalition-cycle in Central Eastern Europe, the chapter explains how the country chapters are organized, which research questions they ask, and how this relates to the extant literature on CEE coalition politics. The chapter concludes with highlighting some of the books’ main findings.

Department of Government
External organisation(s)
Umeå University, Corvinus University of Budapest
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
506012 Political systems
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Social Sciences(all)
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