Portfolio Salience and the Proportionality of Payoffs in Coalition Governments

Paul V. Warwick, James N. Druckman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


A fundamental divide has emerged over how portfolio payoffs are distributed among parties in parliamentary coalitions. On one side lies very strong empirical evidence that the parties in a governing coalition tend to receive portfolios in one-to-one proportion to the amount of legislative support they contribute to the coalition, with perhaps some slight deviations from proportionality coming at the expense of larger parties that lead coalition negotiations. On the other side of the debate lies a stream of formal theories that suggest the opposite - that parties in charge of coalition negotiations ought to be able to take a disproportionately large share of portfolio benefits for themselves. In this article, we address this disjunctive by re-examining the empirical connection between legislative seats and portfolio payoffs with the aid of a new and more extensive dataset, a different method of analysis, and what we see as a more valid operationalization of the dependent variable. This operationalization involves the inclusion, for the first time, of evidence concerning the importance or salience of the portfolios each party receives, as opposed to just their quantity. The article concludes with an assessment of the implications of our findings for the debate over the rewards of coalition membership in parliamentary democracies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-649
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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