Date: 23 March 2022
Research seminar with Jan Teorell, professor of political science at Lund University.
During the past decade, many parliamentary democracies have experienced bargaining delays when forming governments. For example, after the Swedish parliamentary election in 2018, it took 134 days to install a new government, which is surprising since it has typically taken a few weeks to form a cabinet in Sweden. The previous literature has attributed protracted government formation processes to a high degree of preference uncertainty among the political parties and a high level of bargaining complexity. We focus here on a feature that has not received much attention in the previous literature – “pre-electoral commitments”. We focus specifically on the fact that pre-electoral commitments can increase bargaining complexity in cases where the election outcome was unexpected. In such cases parties have to consider the electoral and intra-party costs associated with breaking promises made during the campaign. We evaluate our arguments using a nested research design, combining a comparative analysis of about 400 government formation processes in 17 West European parliamentary democracies (1945–2018) with an in-depth case study based on 37 interviews with leading Swedish politicians concerning the government formation process in 2018–2019.
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