Chapter

The Theory of Political Coalitions

New Haven
Publisher: Yale University Press
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  • Comparative European Politics 10/2013; 13(3). DOI:10.1057/cep.2013.27 · 0.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In nascent democracies, like that in Malawi, with presidential regimes and plurality electoral systems, the emergence of fragmented political party systems is inevitable, characterised by ethnically polarised political behaviour, fragile institutions and minority governments. This ultimately leads to volatile and contentious legislative-executive relations, weak political party cohesion and the stagnation of democratic consolidation. Malawi’s system inherently offers neither incentives for coalition formation nor mutual interdependence between the executive and the legislature. Hence, the latent conflicts, persistent governance crises, inertia and grinding executive-legislative confrontations. Among political actors and across minority regimes in Malawi recourse to coalition politics has not been embraced as an optimal democratic instrument and formal strategy for state governability since 1994. The Mutharika minority government (2004-2009), which was persistently frustrated by parliamentary paralysis, survived on the floor crossing inducements of opposition legislators, extended judicial injunctions and the presidential prorogation of Parliament. In addition, the brief ‘experiments’ with government coalitions, ‘collusions’ and electoral alliances weakened cohesion within partner parties and hardly increased national cohesion, but promoted state governability and yielded marginal gains in democratic consolidation. This article argues that political institutions that are designed to encourage formal political coalitions and discourage floor crossing (parliamentary systems and proportional electoral laws) serve to mitigate against state instability and enhance democratic consolidation.
    Political Party Alliances and Coalitions: Exploring their Causes and Examining their Consequences on Party Systems, Democratic Consolidation, State Governability and National Cohesion., Johannesburg; 09/2013
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    ABSTRACT: A large body of recent quantitative work on the ‘diversity detriment’ hypothesis finds that ethno-religious diversity is linked with a host of societal ills, implying in turn a strong challenge to multiculturalist theory and policies. Given the stakes, the appropriate conceptualization and measurement of ethno-religious divisions is a matter of considerable importance. This paper provides a synthetic critique of how major measures each capture the notion of ‘divisions’ and relate to each other conceptually and empirically within a divided society. Furthermore, instead of presenting temporal snapshots of divisions at the national level, as in most previous work on the topic, we explore how measures perform at more localized levels of analysis and over time, drawing on individual level census data from Mindanao, the Philippines. We highlight four conceptually ‘big’ issues we believe deserve emphasis and further investigation: the sensitivity of measures to the choice of construct, categorization methodology, passage of time, and spatial variation. We provide guidance and discuss the key implications of these points both for quantitative scholars working with these measures and for qualitatively inclined empiricists and normative theorists wishing to interpret, evaluate or otherwise engage with the quantitative research on the merits of diversity.