Jan Teorell: Commitments and bargaining delays in parliamentary democracies

Datum: 23 mars 2022
Tid: 14:00-15:45

Research seminar with Jan Teorell, professor of political science at Lund University.

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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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