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Opposition Parties and the Timing of Successful No-Confidence Motions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 June 2015

Abstract

The power to remove the government via no-confidence motion is a powerful tool afforded to the opposition. By triggering the government’s downfall, opposition parties can substantially influence policy direction in parliamentary democracies. Yet, we know surprisingly little about how government and opposition parties interact to determine the occurrence of no-confidence motions and their chance of success. In this project, I develop a simple formal model that identifies the factors influencing when opposition parties propose no-confidence motions and their outcomes. I find support for these expectations by estimating an empirical model that is explicitly derived from the underlying theoretical model. Unlike previous empirical studies of government stability, this project honors the strategic interactions that occur between government and opposition parties. In addition to the possibility of the motion passing, opposition parties are motivated by electoral considerations, which induce different behaviors at various stages of the electoral cycle. This project offers a number of implications for the study of parliamentary politics, including theories of opposition behavior, democratic accountability, and government duration and termination.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
© The European Political Science Association 2015 

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Footnotes

Laron K. Williams, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, 103 Professional Building, Columbia, MO 65211-6030 (williamslaro@missouri.edu). A previous version of this paper was presented at the “Analyzing European Politics in the 21st Century” Conference at the European Union Center for Excellence, Texas A&M University, July 28–29, 2008. The author thanks James Adams, Daina Chiba, Michael T. Koch, Garrett Glasgow, Lanny Martin, Edward Morgan-Jones, Mark Nieman, Harvey Palmer, Zeynep Somer-Topcu, Randy Stevenson, Taehee Whang, Guy D. Whitten, and James Williams for their helpful comments and Brandon Park and Clint Swift for research assistance. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.12

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