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The Role of Parties' Past Behavior in Coalition Formation


This study considers whether and to what extent defections from a government coalition are punished. The study employs data on coalitions in eastern and western Europe from 1950 through 2006. The results show that if a coalition breaks due to conflict between partners or if one party withdraws from it, subsequent inclusion of the conflicting parties in the same coalition becomes less likely. Additional tests demonstrate that this effect occurs because defectors are punished by their former coalition partners. Another extension of the main analysis shows that rather than becoming pariah parties, defectors lose credibility only in the eyes of their former coalition partners.

Corresponding author
Margit Tavits is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Washington University in St. Louis, Campus Box 1063, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO 63130 (
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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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