Decision Making in Coalitions and the Economic Vote

Duch and Stevenson (2008) have specified a vote utility function in which responsibility attribution for economic outcomes is conditioned on factors that facilitate the ability of voters to determine each party’s competency for shaping economic outcomes. In the case of coalition governments, voters are presumed to have some heuristic for assigning responsibility for economic outcomes to individual parties. Employing experimental methods, Duch et al (2008) suggest that one important heuristic is agenda power —the decision maker in a collective decision making entity with proposal power tends to attract a disproportionate amount of the blame or reward by those who are materially affected by these decisions. This essay demonstrates that voters associate the PM Party with agenda setting on economic issues. Also, we argue that the coalition context can either exaggerate or mute perceived agenda power. Building on Falco-Gimeno (2011 and 2014b) cabinet context is defined as the extent to which decision making is compartmentalized, i.e., whether coalition parties take issue ownership for particular policy areas. When decision making is compartmentalized, perceived agenda power is enhanced and we find the PM Party receiving a relatively large economic vote. Download Paper File