Contractual Arrangements, Formal Institutions and Personalised Crisis Management: Coalition Governance under Chancellor Merkel (2013-2017)

Faculty/Professorship: Comparative Politics  ; Bamberg Graduate School of Social Sciences (BAGSS)  
Author(s): Saalfeld, Thomas  ; Bahr, Matthias  ; Seifert, Olaf  
Title of the Journal: German Politics
ISSN: 0964-4008
Corporate Body: Association for the Study of German Politics
Publisher Information: Philadelphia, PA : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Year of publication: 2018
Issue: Published online: 30 Aug 2018
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1080/09644008.2018.1512591
The cabinet Merkel III (2013–2017) faced several exogenous challenges that called for effective conflict management in this coalition of Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU) and Social Democrats (SPD). Following the SPD’s hesitation to join the ‘Grand Coalition’ in 2013, ideological and strategic differences between the three coalition parties continued to shape policy-making throughout the entire legislative period. Intra-coalition conflict peaked as a result of the increased influx of refugees from late summer 2015 onwards. Despite significant ideological differences and this exogenous shock, the coalition survived its entire legislative term. The present study takes this observation as its point of departure and analyses the mechanisms of conflict resolution that help to understand the stability of the coalition. Based on theoretical literature on delegation and coalition governance, we argue that strategic portfolio allocation and small informal arenas of conflict management played an important role. The relatively extensive coalition agreement, by contrast, was a weak institution since it was especially detailed in policy areas with low potential for conflict.
Keywords: Coalition, Merkel, Coalition agreement
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 24. September 2018