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A Combination of Methods. The Way Forward in Coalition Research
Unformatted Document Text:  17 affected by the conflicts that ended Martens VIII. Thus, the parties in the incumbent administration were not likely to have seen the option to stay together as “cheap” in terms of transaction costs. The reversion point explanation may be partly correct, since the incumbent Prime minister, Wilfried Martens (who also had considerable weight in these bargaining rounds as president of the European People’s Party) was negotiating an agenda for the Maastricht Treaty with fellow Europeans, that could only be handled by a new government that stood close to the trade unions, whilst coalition talks for the formation of the new Belgian government were under way (Dumont 2002, interview with Wilfried Martens). Instead, in this case, it is a combination of the role of intraparty or party-linked organizations at different stages of the process and a specific external opportunity that appear to have largely determined the outcome. The role played by the trade unions was particularly important, as internal factions or pressure groups of the Christian Democrat and socialist parties that are 100 percent office-seeking, ruled out the resistance of political heavyweights and rank-and-file to get into government and prevented specific coalition formulas to form. The external opportunity at hand meant that the government was obliged to take unpopular socioeconomic measures in line with the agenda of the Maastricht Treaty, making sure that the government had relays with a united trade union front as a guarantee to control social unrest. To conclude, in this case study, neither of the causal mechanisms that have been hypothesized to explain the incumbency effect found in our statistical analysis and in other large-n studies, were given much support. Instead, this case study suggests that other factors need to be taken into account, such as intraparty politics, and the role of external actors. Process verification, case 2: Kok II (the Netherlands, 1998) The re-formation of the purple government consisting of the PvdA (Social Democrats), D66 (progressive liberals) and the VVD (conservative liberals) was predicted by our third model, the model that takes an incumbency effect into account. This government outcome was however not predicted by our first and second model, and this case was characterized by Andeweg (2002) as puzzling for coalition theory in that the previous government consisting of the same parties was a minimal winning coalition, whereas this coalition became oversized after the election (D66 became superfluous). This suggests that this case can be analyzed as both a predicted case (studying the incumbency mechanism) and as a deviant case. According to Andeweg (2002: 9), even though coalition loyalty did play a role, and even though a transaction costs mechanism seems to fit with the evidence, simply having governed together is not a sufficient explanation. Even though Franklin and Mackie (1983: 298) have warned that incumbent (“inertia”) effects could hide size and ideological factors that led to the formation of the previous government, it is clearly not the case here either, as the new coalition not only became oversized while it was previously minimal winning, but also was and remained ideologically wide (this particular coalition was unconnected on the left-right dimension as the median party, CDA, was not included) in both cases. Why then was D66 included in the 1998 government? First, for the PvdA, having D66 on board was a guarantee that the main electoral competitor of the left would not capitalize votes by radicalizing its discourse in opposition. Another

Authors: Bck, Hanna. and Dumont, Patrick.
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17
affected by the conflicts that ended Martens VIII. Thus, the parties in the
incumbent administration were not likely to have seen the option to stay together as
“cheap” in terms of transaction costs. The reversion point explanation may be
partly correct, since the incumbent Prime minister, Wilfried Martens (who also had
considerable weight in these bargaining rounds as president of the European
People’s Party) was negotiating an agenda for the Maastricht Treaty with fellow
Europeans, that could only be handled by a new government that stood close to the
trade unions, whilst coalition talks for the formation of the new Belgian
government were under way (Dumont 2002, interview with Wilfried Martens).
Instead, in this case, it is a combination of the role of intraparty or party-linked
organizations at different stages of the process and a specific external opportunity
that appear to have largely determined the outcome. The role played by the trade
unions was particularly important, as internal factions or pressure groups of the
Christian Democrat and socialist parties that are 100 percent office-seeking, ruled
out the resistance of political heavyweights and rank-and-file to get into
government and prevented specific coalition formulas to form. The external
opportunity at hand meant that the government was obliged to take unpopular
socioeconomic measures in line with the agenda of the Maastricht Treaty, making
sure that the government had relays with a united trade union front as a guarantee
to control social unrest. To conclude, in this case study, neither of the causal
mechanisms that have been hypothesized to explain the incumbency effect found in
our statistical analysis and in other large-n studies, were given much support.
Instead, this case study suggests that other factors need to be taken into account,
such as intraparty politics, and the role of external actors.

Process verification, case 2: Kok II (the Netherlands, 1998)
The re-formation of the purple government consisting of the PvdA (Social
Democrats), D66 (progressive liberals) and the VVD (conservative liberals) was
predicted by our third model, the model that takes an incumbency effect into
account. This government outcome was however not predicted by our first and
second model, and this case was characterized by Andeweg (2002) as puzzling for
coalition theory in that the previous government consisting of the same parties was
a minimal winning coalition, whereas this coalition became oversized after the
election (D66 became superfluous). This suggests that this case can be analyzed as
both a predicted case (studying the incumbency mechanism) and as a deviant case.
According to Andeweg (2002: 9), even though coalition loyalty did play a role,
and even though a transaction costs mechanism seems to fit with the evidence,
simply having governed together is not a sufficient explanation. Even though
Franklin and Mackie (1983: 298) have warned that incumbent (“inertia”) effects
could hide size and ideological factors that led to the formation of the previous
government, it is clearly not the case here either, as the new coalition not only
became oversized while it was previously minimal winning, but also was and
remained ideologically wide (this particular coalition was unconnected on the left-
right dimension as the median party, CDA, was not included) in both cases.
Why then was D66 included in the 1998 government? First, for the PvdA,
having D66 on board was a guarantee that the main electoral competitor of the left
would not capitalize votes by radicalizing its discourse in opposition. Another


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