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The Cycle of Coalition
How Parties and Voters Interact under Coalition Governance

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  • Author: David Fortunato, School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego
  • Date Published: June 2021
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108834803

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Presents an interdisciplinary analysis of party and voter behaviors in multiparty parliamentary systems
    • Combines case study of recent events with cross-national quantitative analyses
    • Details cases in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, with a special focus on the United Kingdom
    • Uses simple language to explain analyses of election results, experiments, legislative procedure, media reports, speeches, and surveys
    • Layouts a detailed framework for future research
    Read more


    • Winner, 2022 European Politics and Society Section Best Book Award, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    '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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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2021
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108834803
    • length: 225 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.51kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A lesson learned too late
    2. Motivation and promise
    3. Parties and voters under coalition governance
    4. Perceptions of coalition compromise
    5. Costs of coalition compromise
    6. Collective responsibility and differentiation
    7. What could go wrong?
    8. Does it ever go right?
    9. Pushing forward.

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    The Cycle of Coalition

    David Fortunato

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  • Author

    David Fortunato, School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego
    David Fortunato is Associate Professor in the School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego. His research has been published in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Politics, among others.


    • Winner, 2022 European Politics and Society Section Best Book Award, American Political Science Association

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