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Divide to Conquer? Strategic Opposition and Coalition Government

Richard, Whitaker and Martin, Shane (2021) 'Divide to Conquer? Strategic Opposition and Coalition Government.' Party Politics. p. 135406882110428. ISSN 1354-0688

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Abstract

Parliamentary elections often result in the formation of a coalition government. While the legislative process allows actors within a coalition government to monitor each other, little attention has focused on how opposition parties respond to coalition government. We argue that opposition parties have incentives to uncover and highlight differences and tensions within the governing coalition. A strategy by the opposition to use legislative tools to uncover policy conflicts and ministerial drift within the coalition increases intra-coalition tensions, potentially generating electoral costs for the governing parties, and potentially even hastening the coalition's demise. To test our argument, we build and analyse a new dataset of parliamentary questions in the British House of Commons covering the 2010-15 coalition. As expected, the main opposition party appear to strategically focus questions towards policy areas that uncover intra-coalition tensions. This research highlights the importance of opposition parties in parliamentary democracies.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: coalition government; opposition parties; parliamentary questions
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2021 11:58
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:26
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31056

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