Chapter

The General Theory of Party Government

Ian Budge and Hans Keman

in Parties and Democracy

Published in print September 1993 | ISBN: 9780198279259
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598883 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198279256.003.0003

Series: Comparative European Politics

 The General Theory of Party Government

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Deals with both the general assumptions and detailed predictions of the theory of party government proposed in the book. The general assumptions are that (1) in parliamentary democracies, the party of combination of parties that can win a legislative vote of confidence forms the government; (2) parties seek to form that government which is capable of surviving legislative votes of confidence and which will most effectively carry through their declared policy preferences under existing conditions; (3) the chief preference of all democratic parties is to counter threats to the democratic system; where no such threats exist, but sociality‐bourgeois differences are important, the preference of all parties is to carry through policies related to these differences; and where neither of the preceding conditions hold, parties pursue their own group‐related preferences; and (4) within parties, and subject to overall policy agreements and disciplinary and procedural constraints, factions seek to transform their own policy preferences into government policy most effectively.

From these can be deduced hierarchical rules for government formation (Table 2.3) and further hypotheses about when parties choose to support rather than enter governments; distribution of government ministries between parties in a coalition; policies pursued by governments; turnover of personnel; and durability and termination of governments.

These hypothesis constitute predictions that can be empirically tested against statistical evidence from 20 democracies between 1945–84. (An expended version of this is available in Jaap Woldendorp, Hans Keman, and Ian Budge, Party Government in 48 Democracies (1945–98, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 2000)).

Keywords: data; formation; governments; hierarchical assumptions; ministries; outputs; parties; theory

Chapter.  12143 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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