Coalition management under divided/unified government

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If the opposite of pro is con, then the opposite of progress must be the Congress,' says a popular joke about the divided government in the US two-party presidential regime. Divided government occurs when different political parties control different branches of government. By this arithmetic definition, however, divided government almost always takes place in multiparty presidential regimes, given that the party of the president rarely obtains solely the majority of seats in Congress. In order to govern and pass legislation, a minority president has to build and sustain post-electoral coalitions in multiparty settings. The received wisdom on multiparty presidential regime is that constitutional and agenda-setting powers and presidential preferences would be the key determinants for a successful minority government. In addition to those aspects, however, this paper claims that the degree of congruence between the preference of the presidential coalition and the preference of the floor of the Congress is the crucial ingredient. That is, regardless of presidential preferences or characteristics, the higher the preference incongruence between the president’s coalition and the floor, the more difficult would be the coalition management and the higher the probability that the Congress would work as the opposite of progress. It is, in fact, the equivalent functional of divided government in multiparty presidential settings. This paper explores conceptually and empirically the effect of the distance of preferences between the coalition and the floor in the multiparty presidential regimes in Latin America.

Evento: European Consortium of Political Research

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