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From popularity to vulnerability: An application to dynamic representation in coalition governments

Version 2 2020-08-05, 20:06
Version 1 2018-07-26, 12:01
Posted on 2020-08-05 - 20:06

Electoral vulnerability matters for policymakers’ responsiveness to the public. While coalition governments are the norm in Europe, research on government responsiveness to public opinion has studied the effects of electoral pressures mostly for single-party governments and employed measures of government popularity. This article draws on and extends this research by developing two alternative measures of electoral vulnerability—government potential vulnerability and formateur potential vulnerability—that account for popularity limitations. An illustration of the measures is given by Germany (1987–2005) as a case of agenda responsiveness in coalition governments. Data from the Comparative Agendas Project on executive speeches in Germany are combined with data on vote intentions and the most important problem. Empirical analyses find support for the expectation that electoral vulnerability conditions agenda responsiveness to public issue priorities and that the proposed measures reflect more accurately the sources of vulnerability than government popularity.

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