It is a well-established empirical finding that governments on average lose votes during their time in office. This exploratory analysis examines whether all members of coalition governments suffer the electoral cost of governing equally. Using electoral data from 20 parliamentary systems from 1961 to 2015, I compare the electoral performance of junior coalition members, the prime minister of a coalition, and single-party governments. Furthermore, I examine the conditioning effects of economic performance, legislative institutions as well as party ideology and size. I find that there are substantial differences in the electoral cost of governing for different types of coalition participation. The evidence suggests that the prime minister in a coalition is partially insulated from the penalties of government and thus should try to attract junior coalition members whenever possible.
European mainstream right parties are increasingly choosing to include radical right parties in coalition governments or other types of stable and committed cooperation. How does this cooperation affect voters’ perceptions of party positions? This article examines whether coalition signals have a significant impact on voters’ perceptions on the specific policy issues that were at stake in the bargaining process. More specifically, does the issue ownership of the radical right cause voters to perceive mainstream parties as radicalizing on immigration issues pertaining to asylum and multiculturalism? I compare the perceptions of Dutch parties before and after two coalition formations that (formally and informally) involved a radical right party: the coalition with the List Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and the support agreement with the Freedom Party in 2010. Furthermore, I examine the long-term effects of the Danish mainstream right government’s reliance on the support of the radical right Danish People’s Party in 2001-2011.
The literature on the concept of niche parties is rapidly growing. Yet, despite a common sense understanding of what characterizes this subset of European political parties, and how they are different from their mainstream competitors, little consensus exist on their operationalization. This paper explores the variation in the main definitions that scholars have used to identify niche parties, or “nicheness”, and analyzes its implications for the validity of the findings about the appeal and strategic behavior of these parties. We replicate one of the most cited articles in this field (Ezrow et al. 2010), which argues that niche parties are more responsive to their supporters than mainstream parties. Using a variety of elite and mass-level datasets, covering more than twenty countries in the period 2002-2016, we show that this key finding is sensitively dependent on the employed definition, as well as the assumption of unidimensional political contestation. This paper has important implications for our understanding of party strategy and democratic representation. This paper explores the variation in the main definitions that scholars have used to identify niche parties, or ``nicheness", and analyzes its implications for the validity of the findings about the appeal and strategic behavior of these parties.