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Portfolio Allocation and the Vote of No Confidence*

  • Sona N. Golder and Jacquelyn A. Thomas

Abstract

There is a contradiction between theory and empirics with respect to portfolio allocation in parliamentary democracies. While the canonical model of legislative bargaining predicts the existence of a ‘formateur bonus’, empirical studies show that portfolios are allocated in a manner that favours smaller parties. This article argues that the difference between the empirical pattern and the theoretical predictions can be explained by the vote of no confidence, which provides an incentive for large formateur parties to overcompensate smaller coalition partners in exchange for their sustained support over time. This argument is tested by exploiting variations in the presence of no confidence votes across national and regional levels in France. As predicted, we find that larger formateur parties receive a greater share of portfolios if the vote of no confidence is absent than if it is present.

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Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Political Science (email: sgolder@psu.edu); J.D. Candidate, Florida State University College of Law (jat07@my.fsu.edu). We thank Matt Golder, Alec Hargreaves, Michael Laver and Paul Warwick for their helpful comments on this article. The data and all computer code necessary to replicate the results and figures in this analysis are available at https://files.nyu.edu/sln202/public/ and http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123412000580. All statistical models were estimated using Stata 11.

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1 Gamson, William, ‘A Theory of Coalition Formation’, American Sociologcal Review, 26 (1961), 373382

2 Warwick, Paul V. and Druckman, James N., ‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox: An Investigation into the Nature of a Very Strong but Puzzling Relationship’, European Journal of Political Science, 45 (2006), 635665

3 Bäck, Hanna, Meier, Henk Erik and Persson, Thomas, ‘Party Size and Portfolio Payoffs: The Proportional Allocation of Ministerial Posts in Coalition Governments’, The Journal of Legislative Studies, 15 (2009), 1034

Indriðason, Indriði, ‘Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow? Rethinking Gamson's Law’ (Riverside: University of California, Department of Political Science Working Article, 2010)

Laver, Michael and Schofield, Norman, ‘Bargaining Theory and Portfolio Payoffs in European Coalition Governments 1945–1983’, British Journal of Political Science, 15 (1985), 143164

4 Carroll, Royce and Cox, Gary W., ‘The Logic of Gamson's Law: Pre-Electoral Coalitions and Portfolio Allocation’, American Journal of Political Science, 51 (2007), 300313

Morelli, Massimo, ‘Demand Competition and Policy Compromise in Legislative Bargaining’, American Political Science Review, 93 (1999), 809820

5 Austen-Smith, David and Banks, Jeffrey, ‘Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes’, American Political Science Review, 82 (1988), 405422

Baron, David and Ferejohn, John, ‘Bargaining in Legislatures’, American Political Science Review, 83 (1989), 11811206

6 Penn, Elizabeth Maggie, ‘A Model of Farsighted Voting’, American Journal of Political Science, 53 (2009), 3654

7 Gamson, ‘A Theory of Coalition Formation’.

8 Warwick and Druckman, ‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox’.

9 Michael Laver, Scott de Marchi and Hande Mutlu, ‘Negotiation in Legislatures over Government Formation’, Public Choice, 147 (2011), 285304

10 Although large parties are generally undercompensated, formateur parties in particular are disadvantaged. A model in which we regress a party's share of portfolios against its share of the government's legislative seats and a dichotomous variable capturing formateur status results in a coefficient on formateur status that is negative (−0.02) and highly statistically significant (p < 0.002). Far from receiving a bonus, formateur parties appear to be penalized.

11 Baron and Ferejohn, ‘Bargaining in Legislatures’.

12 Austen-Smith and Banks, ‘Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes’; Baron and Ferejohn, ‘Bargaining in Legislatures’.

13 Lupia, Arthur and Strøm, Kaare, ‘Coalition Termination and the Strategic Timing of Legislative Elections’, American Political Science Review, 89 (1995), 648665

14 Indriðason, ‘Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow?’; Penn, ‘A Model of Farsighted Voting’.

15 Penn,‘A Model of Farsighted Voting’, p. 48

16 Indriðason, ‘Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow?’.

17 Formateur parties may decide to provide some additional portfolios to small parties if doing so facilitates passing legislation. Note, though, that the ‘blackmail’ potential of small parties is restricted when there is no vote of no confidence, because legislative defeats do not threaten the existence of the government and hence the formateur's continued access to office benefits.

18 Neto, Octavio Amorim, ‘The Presidential Calculus: Executive Policy Making and Cabinet Formation in the Americas’, Comparative Political Studies, 39 (2006), 415440

Neto, Octavio Amorim and Samuels, David, ‘Democratic Regimes and Cabinet Politics: A Global Perspective’, Revista Ibero-Americana de Estudios Legislativos, 1 (2010), 1023

Samuels, David, ‘Separation of Powers’, in Susan Stokes and Carles Boix, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

19 Reutter, Werner, ‘Vertrauensfrage und Parlamentsauflösung. Anmerkungen zur verfassungspolitischen Debatte und zur Verfassungspraxis in den Ländern’, Politische Vierteljahresschrift, 46 (2005), 655673

20 Our approach obviously involves trade-offs. One drawback is that we vary the level of government, something that a cross-national analysis would avoid.

21 Elgie, Robert, ‘Semi-Presidentialism: An Increasingly Common Constitutional Choice’, in Robert Elgie, Sophia Moestrup and Yu-Shan Wu, eds, Semi-Presidentialism and Democracy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)

22 Although the French regional governments have a narrower set of competencies than the national government, they have continued to gain powers since their creation in the Deferre Reforms of 1982. For example the regional governments are currently responsible economic development, job training, secondary education, the environment and infrastructure (including ports and airports).

23 As is typical in unitary countries, provisions do exist for sub-national governments to be dissolved under exceptional circumstances. In the case of France, for example, these provisions can be applied if the sub-national government finds it ‘impossible to function’. Note, though, that the regional assembly cannot bring the government down with a vote of no confidence. Rather, an appeal must be made by the regional prefect to the Minister of the Interior, after which the national government decides whether the request should be granted (Council of Europe, Directorate General of Democracy, and Political Affairs, ‘Interim Dissolution of the Local/Regional Councils: Results of RRS No 10 [LC-IC(2009)12]’, 2009. http://www.eerstekamer.nl/id/vieliabbdus2/document_extern/100422bijl2_lr_ic/f=/vieliattqfv6.pdf, accessed 5 May 2010. To date, this provision has never been successfully exercised.

24 Warwick and Druckman, ‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox’.

25 Fauvelle-Aymar, Christine, ‘Participation in the 2010 French Regional Elections: The Major Impact of a Change in the Electoral Calendar’, French Politics, 9 (2011), 120

Gougou, Florent and Labouret, Simon, ‘The 2010 French Regional Elections: Transitional Elections in a Realignment Era’, French Politics, 8 (2010), 321341

Jérôme, Bruno and Jérôme-Speziari, Véronique, ‘The 2004 French Regional Elections: Politico-Economic Factors of a Nationalized Local Ballot’, French Politics, 3 (2005), 142163

26 Given our desire to hold constant as many contextual features as possible across regions, we omitted Corsica, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and Réunion because the party systems in these regions have historically been different from those found in the twenty-one regions of ‘mainland’ France.

28 Warwick and Druckman, ‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox’.

29 We assume that the party of the prime minister or regional president is the same as the party of the (final) formateur. We are unaware of any cases in our data that violate this assumption. We made one change to the formateur variable found in the original Warwick and Druckman (‘The Portfolio Allocation Paradox’) dataset. Rather than coding Georges Pompidou as non-partisan, we coded him as being affiliated with the Gaullist party. Although Pompidou was not a member of the National Assembly when he became prime minister, he was clearly linked with the Gaullist Party, was publicly recognized as the de facto party leader from 1964–5, and openly ran as a Gaullist presidential candidate in 1969. We should note that our results are actually stronger if we keep to the original coding of the formateur variable.

30 Brambor, Thomas, Clark, William Roberts and Golder, Matt, ‘Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses’, Political Analysis, 14 (2006), 6382

31 Cindy D. Kam and Robert J. Franzese, Modeling and Interpreting Interactive Hypotheses in Regression Analysis (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007

32 Laver et al., ‘Negotiation in Legislatures over Government Formation’, p. 288

33 Groseclose, Tim and Snyder, James M., ‘Buying Supermajorities’, American Political Science Review, 90 (1996), 303315

Volden, Craig and Carrubba, Clifford J., ‘The Formation of Oversized Coalitions in Parliamentary Democracies’, American Journal of Political Science, 48 (2004), 521537

34 Bäck, Hanna, ‘Explaining and Predicting Coalition Outcomes: Conclusions from Studying Data on Local Coalitions’, European Journal of Political Research, 42 (2003), 441472

Däubler, Thomas and Debus, Marc, ‘Government Formation and Policy Formulation in the German States’, Regional and Federal Studies, 19 (2009), 7395

* Associate Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Political Science (email: ); J.D. Candidate, Florida State University College of Law (). We thank Matt Golder, Alec Hargreaves, Michael Laver and Paul Warwick for their helpful comments on this article. The data and all computer code necessary to replicate the results and figures in this analysis are available at https://files.nyu.edu/sln202/public/ and http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123412000580. All statistical models were estimated using Stata 11.

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Portfolio Allocation and the Vote of No Confidence*

  • Sona N. Golder and Jacquelyn A. Thomas

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