Small Parties: From Party Pledges to Government Policy
Title: Small Parties: From Party Pledges to Government Policy
Author: BOLLEYER, Nicole
Citation: West European Politics, 30, 1, 2007, 121-147
When estimating a party's capacity for goal co-ordination, scholars need not only consider contextual constraints but also the party's properties, since these directly affect its strategic choices. For small parties which are crucial in virtually all multi-party systems the co-ordination of votes, office and policy is much more difficult than for numerically strong actors. Since the conceptual tools to assess the weight of small coalition partners – weight defined as the capacity to defend and realise core policy commitments – and to systematise intra-coalitional processes in general are absent, this article proposes a typology to account for small parties' weight. This typology is defined by the two criteria of ‘qualified pivotality’ and ‘centrality’, each of which is assumed to create a particular set of strategic advantages. Based on the latter, the approach allows small parties' impact to be compared, first, with reference to their positions within the respective parliamentary party system, and, second, with reference to the type of coalition that is likely to be formed. Based on the separate but parallel assessment of ‘formation weight’ and ‘coalition weight’, the typology reveals under which conditions the same properties of a small party may be advantageous during the coalition formation process, but disadvantageous during the subsequent period of coalition government.
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