Parliamentary questions as a control mechanism in coalition governments

Faculty/Professorship: Empirical Political Science  
Author(s): Höhmann, Daniel; Sieberer, Ulrich  
Title of the Journal: West European Politics
ISSN: 0140-2382
Publisher Information: Abingdon : Taylor & Francis
Year of publication: 2019
Issue: Published online: 20 May 2019
Pages: 1-25 ; Online-Ressource
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2019.1611986
This article argues that government parties can use parliamentary questions to monitor coalition partners in order to reduce agency loss through ministerial drift. According to this control logic, government parties have particular incentives to question ministers whose jurisdictions display high policy conflict and high electoral salience and thus hold the prospect of electorally damaging ministerial drift. Multivariate regression analysis of all parliamentary questions in the German Bundestag between 1980 and 2017 supports this hypothesis, showing that cabinet parties address substantially and significantly more questions to ministries held by coalition partners on salient and ideologically divisive issues. This interactive effect does not occur for opposition parties or questions posed to own-party ministers. These findings, as well as the temporal patterns of questioning over the electoral cycle, indicate that control within coalitions is a distinct motivation for questioning ministers that cannot be reduced to existing explanations such as electorally motivated issue competition.
Keywords: coalition governance, parliamentary questions, agency drift, control, Germany
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 1. July 2019