Comparative Politics

The Advantage of Incumbents in Coalitional Bargaining

Authors

Abstract

The composition of governing coalitions does not always reflect the relative sizes of the coalition members, but research has not been able to fully reconcile why. We propose that political parties with more (re-elected) incumbent representatives fare better in coalitional bargaining. To evaluate this argument empirically, we construct a data set of parties and governing coalitions in Finnish local governments. Using an instrumental variable strategy that hinges on within-party close elections between incumbents and non-incumbents, we find that, ceteris paribus, having more re-elected incumbents improves a party’s coalitional bargaining outcomes. Descriptive evidence suggests that incumbent representation is particularly useful when a party is in a disadvantaged position (e.g., it is ideologically distant from other parties) and when the bargaining environment is more complex (e.g., there are more parties). Lastly, incumbent representation also matters for selection: parties that have more incumbent representatives nominate more incumbents in the municipal executive.

Version notes

The main text has been revised throughout the paper. Moreover, we have included additional results on party characteristics and coalitional bargaining outcomes.

Content

Thumbnail image of MT_manuscript_20211021.pdf

Comments

Log in or register with APSA to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy [opens in a new tab] – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .