Montesquieu Institute: from science to society

Government Coalition Building in a Comparative Perspective


Dutch elections are characterised by a structural lack of result, one Dutch politician famously said the 1970s.

This statement is still very much up-to-date. There are hardly any formal rules for the process that leads from parliamentary elections to a new cabinet in the Netherlands. Every formation of a new governing coalition has its own dynamics. At the same time, the process is characterized by a body of informal rules. What exactly are these "rules of the game?"

This project attempts to further analyze the formation process of the Dutch cabinet. It seems clear that "four P's" have to be determined: which political parties are taking part in the formation of a new cabinet, what programme can they agree on, which party gets which portfolio, and which persons are to be appointed minister?

In order to better understand this process, the project will also take a comparative perspective. As other European parliamentary systems have their own ways of forming a new government, the Dutch case is compared to a number of other countries to examine questions such as: why is it that the German formation process takes much less time, or why is is that minority coalitions seem to work well in Sweden or Denmark?

This three-year Ph.D. project, funded by the Montesquieu Institute, started in 2009 and is carried out by Peter Bootsma

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