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This book analyzes the verticalization of coalition cabinets from the national to the sub-national level. Presenting case studies for countries with federal systems of government, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, and India, as well as those focusing on states with hybrid systems of government, such as Italy, the contributors analyze multilevel government formation processes to identify vertical congruence between national and sub-national coalitions. The book also examines various factors affecting the degree of congruence of political coalitions, such as the degree of decentralization, federalization and institutionalization of political systems, as well as cleavage structure. This book will be a valuable resource for all scholars interested in coalition politics, as well as for politicians and practitioners in government and parliament.




The aim of this book is not to provide an updated theory on federalism, or on political behaviour in federal polities as a whole. We also do not seek to challenge the existing literature of coalition theories as applied to political science. Nonetheless, our goal in this volume is far from unambitious and irrelevant. We focus, rather, on a more prosaic, yet still original, objective.
Adrián Albala, Josep Maria Reniu

The Missing Piece: Introducing the 4th Generation of Coalition Theories

In political science, coalition theories, mostly applied to the study of governments, have developed during the past decades into a huge body of literature to provide theoretical knowledge and tools for the analysis of formation, maintenance and breakdown of this type of government. In fact, one could say that coalition theories today constitute one of the most prolific fields of academic literature on political science.
Adrián Albala

Coalition Building on the Federal and on the Länder Level in Germany

For a better understanding of coalition formation processes, researchers question whether or not coalitions on the national and sub-national levels are congruent and, if not, which factors trigger incongruence. This work aims to test the congruence hypothesis for the case of Germany. Germany is an important case for different reasons. First, the Länder chamber, the Bundesrat, is important also for a good part of the federal legislation. In order to avoid gridlock situations, Länder parties are confronted with strong incentives to form coalitions congruent to the federal level. Second, party systems in the Länder are largely similar to that on the federal level what is a precondition to form congruent governments. Third, on the other hand, also minor variation in party sizes can lead to very different structures. Given that, in Germany, minimal winning coalitions only are common, this variation is very likely to shrink congruence. Fourth, also policy factors might limit congruence. As different policy fields do matter to different degrees on the different levels, policy oriented parties should make different choices in the federal and the sub-national coalition games. This chapter seeks to investigate whether, empirically, the arguments for or against congruence prevail and what the results imply for the political system.
Eric Linhart

Coalition Patterns in Italian Regional Governments 1970–2015

This research explores the dynamics of coalition formation at the regional level in Italy from 1970 to 2015. Our goal is twofold. First, we provide an in-depth analysis of Italian regional politics which, after a number of reforms in the 1990s, acquired a central role. Second, the study of party coalescence at the regional level provides an alternative invaluable source of data, still under-explored, for testing coalition theories. Furthermore, the study of regional coalitions can offer a better understanding of the sub-national political dynamics within the broader national political game by exploring the vertical congruence between coalitions formed at the regional and national levels. To test our hypotheses, we conducted an analysis of potential coalitions in regional councils over an extended time period of five decades. Our results show that regional council coalitions have a higher chance of forming when they mirror the national one, while other important features of regional governments do not differ very much from those implied by the existing models of coalition formation.
Daniela Giannetti, Luca Pinto

Coalition Congruence in India’s Federal System

This paper will analyse coalition politics in India over the period of coalition and/or minority governments from 1989 to the present, from the points of view of institutionalization, congruence and decentralization. India’s federal, bicameral parliamentary democracy, which uses a single-member, simple-plurality (SMSP) or first-past-the-post electoral system, has seen since 1989, a series of coalition and/or minority governments, mainly minority coalitions until the present surplus majority coalition since 2014. A large number of Indian states—in a federal system that has become increasingly decentralized since the mid-1990s—have also experienced coalition politics. Three questions naturally arise: (1) have coalitions become institutionalized at the federal and state levels, as least as far as the core formateur parties are concerned, or do they keep varying with changes of partners? This is the institutionalization question. The paper will argue that some practices have become institutionlised at the federal level and to a lesser extent at the state level. (2) What is the degree of congruence between coalitions at the federal level and those in various states, given the major role played by single-state regional parties in India’s system? This is the congruence question. The paper will argue that congruence is very limited and partial given the role of regional parties but that two broad coalitions are emerging, one led by the BJP, the other by the Congress. (3) How has coalition politics interacted with Indian federalism’s degree of decentralization? This is the decentralization question. The paper will argue that coalition politics has contributed to the further decentralization of power due to the fact that the two major national parties need regional parties as coalition partners to be able to form governments at the federal level and to pass legislation in both houses of parliament.
Eswaran Sridharan

Coalition Politics in a Federalized Party System: The Case of Argentina

The chapter explores coalition-building dynamics in Argentina from 1983 to 2015. Argentine has not a large tradition in government coalitions on federal level, but since 1995 there is an important increase of electoral coalitions in both national and subnational level. This phenomenon has recently called the attention of the literature. Which variables explain the growth of electoral coalitions in Argentina? What are the main incentives that lead parties to form coalitions? Which degree of coalition congruence is among the different electoral levels? How coalition congruence is related to the process of increased federalization of the Argentine party system? To address these questions, this chapter describes and compares the electoral alliances that have run for executive and legislative positions at national and subnational levels in the 24 Argentine provinces between 1983 and 2015. This chapter is based on 1136 observation of coalition-building, candidate selection and electoral results in each of the 24 Argentine provinces since 1983 for all the 9 presidential races, 17 national deputies’ elections, 9 rounds of provincial executive and legislative elections. I excluded municipal positions and the election of national senators. I argue that coalitions replace parties in organizing the electoral competition, given the organizational transformations they went through in the last two decades.
Sebastián Mauro

Presidential and Subnational Elections: The Logic of Party Alignments in Brazil (1994–2010)

The chapter sought to understand how the political parties articulated themselves in the Brazilian states in order to form of electoral and governmental alliances in the current democratic regime. Some Brazilian studies point to a growing trend of alignment between the presidential and state-level electoral disputes in Brazil, mainly from the general elections of 1994. This would have happened because of the influence of bipolar dynamic on the disputes of presidential elections between PT and PSDB on strategies of alliances in the state level elections/campaign in Brazil. The findings of this study point to two conclusions. First, the state electoral arena has been increasingly impacted by presidential electoral strategies, since 1994, in face of PT and PSDB strategy to coordinate campaigns in the states. As for the party alliances within government, the state-level political dynamic allows parties to join forces following the particular political logic of each state, favoring agreements that cover the contextual political interests and not necessarily impacted by PT-PSDB alignment.
Vítor Eduardo Veras de Sandes-Freitas, Fernando Augusto Bizzarro-Neto

Long-term Patterns of Coalition-Building at State and Federal Level in Australia

Australian politics has featured relatively stable conservative coalitions at both national and sub-national (state) level since the advent of the modern two-party system in the 1940s. However, the configuration of those coalitions varies greatly from state to state. While the larger Liberal Party and the rural-based National Party (formerly the Country Party) have shared power in each of the conservative national governments since the Second World War, differences in history, geography and industrial development in a country as large as Australia have produced considerable sub-national differences. The variations in the status of the rural-based party in particular show no signs of disappearing. This is in part due to the federal nature of the parties. State-controlled parties produce some degree of congruence between the two levels of government while retaining variation in the arrangements between states. For example, the National Party is comparatively weak in some states while stronger in the largest states of New South Wales and Victoria, strengths and weaknesses reflected at both state and federal levels. In the National Party’s historically strongest state of Queensland the two parties have combined to form the Liberal National Party (LNP), making arrangements at the federal level even more complicated since LNP MPs can caucus with either of the federal parties.
Wayne Errington

Political Coalitions in Canada: Understanding the Fabric of Canadian Federalism

As a part of a collection dealing with political coalitions in federal states, this book chapter will investigate the case of Canada. To begin with, a brief analysis of the single-member plurality electoral system (SMP) is in order as it helps set the table for party politics. To this effect, SMP is important because it influences the chances a political party will form a majority or minority government. In the case of the latter, political coalitions are more likely to occur as the minority government seeks support outside the party. At the federal level in Canada, the New Democratic Party often holds the balance of power in these situations, which empowers them in the legislative process. With this in mind, a section on these coalitions and the balance of power, particularly in the case of minority governments at the federal level, will be included. Political parties have also been incubators for regionalism. Therefore this chapter will include a section on political parties formed at the provincial level and federal level. For example, the case of the Bloc Quebecois at the federal level and its sister organization the Parti Quebecois at the provincial will be included. More recently, the case of the Conservative Party of Canada will be examined as it draws its origins from multiple political parties. Lastly, the policy areas of electoral reform and climate policy are worth taking a closer look at as these require broad participation and consent. All in all, the book chapter will attempt to elaborate on key features of political coalitions in Canada, as federalism seeks to reconcile pluralism.
Tristan Masson, Guy Lachapelle


The study of subnational political dynamics has acquired relevance in the last 20 years. Academic consensus considers that it is insufficient to study national political processes in isolation if we want to understand how multilevel political systems work (Swenden and Maddens 2008; Gibson and Suárez-Cao 2010; Suárez-Cao and Freidenberg 2013). Recently, the importance of subnational coalitions in the political dynamics of multilevel states has been recognized, both in parliamentary systems (Downs 1957; Däubler and Debus 2009; Deschouwer 2009; Stefuriuc 2009; Bäck et al. 2013; Olislagers and Steyvers 2015; Pappi et al. 2015) and in presidential ones (Kinzo 2003; Lourenço 2003; Krause and Alves Godoi 2005; Braga 2006; Fleischer 2007; Machado 2009; Reynoso 2011; Méndez de Hoyos 2012; Jones and Micozzi 2013; Cruz 2014, Miño 2014; Clerici 2016).
Paula Clerici, Adrián Albala, Josep Maria Reniu
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