Thomas Däubler, Marc Debus, Alejandro Ecker
Party campaign statements and portfolio allocation in coalition governments

West European Politics, 2024: 47, issue 1, pp. 216-227
ISSN: 0140-2382 (print), 1743-9655 (online)

Which party controls which cabinet posts is an important determinant of how multi-party governments work. Existing research shows that parties’ attention to policy domains in election manifestos is a key predictor of portfolio allocation. However, election manifestos are broad documents and typically published months before an election. This research note argues that policy emphasis in the last few weeks before the election matters for portfolio allocation, because parties can focus their message, react to exogenous events and use campaign communication as a commitment device. A test of this argument makes use of a novel dataset on party representatives’ campaign statements. The findings show that the policy focus of campaign statements, especially those stating positions rather than referring to valence, predicts who will control a ministerial portfolio associated with the respective policy domain.