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Who Affects Government Declarations and Why? Contrasting the Left–Right Scale with the Welfare Dimension

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2017


A lively debate among students of parliamentary democracy concerns how coalition governments build their policy proposals. Some scholars maintain that government declarations mirror the position of the median party in parliament; others argue that these proposals better agree with the weighted mean of the coalition parties’ electoral promises. This article sheds light on this puzzle by investigating the role played by several political actors in shaping government declarations on two dimensions: the ideological left–right scale and a genuinely policy-based welfare scale. The results reveal that the agenda setters on the two dimensions do not coincide. On the left–right scale, the prime minister’s party plays a leading role. On the welfare scale, government declarations are affected by the party of the median legislator in parliament and by the parties of the labour and social affairs ministers. Furthermore, government declarations on the welfare dimension tend to drift rightwards with adverse economic conditions.

© The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2017 

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Fedra Negri is a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Social and Political Sciences, at the University of Milan. Contact email:


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