Coalition Agreements, Issue Attention, and Cabinet Governance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Why do coalition parties settle some policy issues in great detail, whereas other issues are hardly mentioned in coalition agreements? Coalition agreements are important policy platforms that determine policy making during the legislative term. However, we know remarkably little about their content. We shed light on why issue attention in coalition agreements varies so extensively. We argue that intra-cabinet conflict positively affects issue attention as parties have stronger incentives to negotiate a detailed policy agenda that constrains their coalition partners. However, we expect that this effect is conditioned by preference tangentiality and the salience of an issue among coalition partners. Our theoretical expectations are tested drawing on a new data set based on a comprehensive content analysis of 224 agreements negotiated by 181 parties between 1945 and 2015 in 24 West and East European countries. We find support for our hypotheses and conclude that parties draft agreements to limit “ministerial drift”.


External organisations
  • Humboldt University of Berlin
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • cabinets, coalition agreements, coalition governments, european politics, political parties
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1995-2031
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number13-14
Early online date2019 Mar 11
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch