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The Electoral Implications of Coalition Policy Making

  • David Fortunato


Coalition governance requires parties to come to collective policy decisions while simultaneously competing for votes. This reality has inspired a vibrant literature on coalition policy making, which is focused on legislative organization and behavior, though it is not clear how it affects the electorate. This article addresses this gap in the literature by examining how voters’ perceptions of compromise in coalition policy making affect their vote choices. Analyzing data from six parliamentary democracies where multiparty governance is the norm, it finds that voters punish parties they view as compromising. More specifically, voters are found to discount the policy accomplishments and policy promises of compromising parties, and that this tendency is more pronounced among previous incumbent cabinet supporters and the politically disinterested. These findings have important implications for the study of voting as well as coalition policy making.



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Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University (email: Researcher support provided by the Collaborative Research Center SFB 884, Universität Mannheim. I am grateful to Royce Carroll, Tom Hansford, Lanny Martin, Robin Sickles, and Randy Stevenson for helpful comments, as well as three anonymous reviewers and the BJPS editorial team for excellent feedback and guidance. All mistakes are my own. Data replication sets are available at and online appendices are available at



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Fortunato Dataset

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Fortunato supplementary material 1

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