Hanna Bäck, Marc Debus, Patrick Dumont
Who Gets What in Coalition Governments? Predictors of Portfolio Allocation in Parliamentary Democracies

European Journal of Political Research, 2011: 50, issue 4, p. 441-478
ISSN: 0304-4130

Ministerial portfolios are the most obvious payoffs for parties entering a governing coalition in parliamentary democracies, which renders the bargaining over portfolios an important phase of the government formation process. The question of ‘who gets what, and why?’ in terms of ministerial remits, has however not yet received much attention by coalition or party scholars. In this paper, we focus on this qualitative aspect of portfolio allocation and systematically evaluate a number of hypotheses that can be drawn from the literature on a new comparative data set. Our main hypothesis focuses on policy saliency of portfolios, and says that parties which, in their election manifestos, emphasize specific themes corresponding to the policy remit of specific cabinet portfolios are more likely to obtain control over these portfolios. The results show that policy saliency is indeed an important predictor of portfolio allocation in post-war Western European parliamentary democracies.