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The Cycle of Coalition
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  • David Fortunato, School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego
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Book description

How does coalition governance shape voters' perceptions of government parties and how does this, in turn, influence party behaviors? Analyzing cross-national panel surveys, election results, experiments, legislative amendments, media reports, and parliamentary speeches, Fortunato finds that coalition compromise can damage parties' reputations for competence as well as their policy brands in the eyes of voters. This incentivizes cabinet partners to take stands against one another throughout the legislative process in order to protect themselves from potential electoral losses. The Cycle of Coalition has broad implications for our understanding of electoral outcomes, partisan choices in campaigns, government formation, and the policy-making process, voters' behaviors at the ballot box, and the overall effectiveness of governance.


'For far too long, research on elite-level coalition politics and research on voter behavior have largely proceeded along separate lines. This book represents a brilliant and long-overdue correction. With great theoretical sophistication, and drawing on an impressive array of observational and experimental data, Fortunato demonstrates the complex interactions between elite level coalition politics and the perceptions and behavior of voters. These are issues that cannot be studied in isolation. This book not only advances our understanding of the dynamics of coalition governance and voter behavior in multiparty systems, but should reshape how scholars approach these questions.'

Georg Vanberg - Duke University

'Fortunato offers a truly innovative look at the relationship between voters and parties in coalition governments. By bringing together new survey experimental data with institutional theories of coalition government, this book is at the forefront of the field and will be an instant classic. A must-read for anyone interested coalitions and parliamentary democracy.'

Jon Slapin - University of Zurich

'Even in countries where such bargaining is essential for policy responsiveness, voters are suspicious of party compromises and doubt their chosen parties will represent them well in coalition governments. To reassure their supporters and sustain their brand, parties in coalitions attack and amend their partners’ policy proposals. Fortunato offers an appealing model of a dynamic cycle of compromise and differentiation. He enhances its credibility with field experiments, panel voter surveys, and comparative analyses of party legislative behavior. The disastrous experience of the British Liberal Democrats offers a compelling illustration of failure to push such confrontation adequately. A consistent message, sophisticated analyses and many challenging insights make this an immensely valuable book.'

G. Bingham Powell - University of Rochester

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