DOI: 10.12924/pag2013.01020117 |Publication Date: 25 July 2013

Inter-Party Conflict Management in Coalition Governments: Analyzing the Role of Coalition Agreements in Belgium, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands

Catherine Moury 1, * and Arco Timmermans 2, 3
1 Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, New University of Lisbon, Portugal
2 Institute of Public Administration, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
3 Montesquieu Institute, The Netherlands
* Corresponding author
Abstract: In this article, we focus on manifest interparty conflict over policy issues and the role of coalition agreements in solving these conflicts. We present empirical findings on the charac­teristics of coalition agreements including deals over policy controversy and on inter-party con­flict occurring during the lifetime of governments in Germany, Belgium, Italy and the Nether­lands. We analyze the ways in which parties in government were or were not constrained by written deals over disputed issues. Coalition agreements from all four countries include specific policy deals, one third of which are precisely defined. These policy deals concern both consen­sual and controversial issues. Our central finding is that, in the case of intra-party conflict, parties almost always fall back on the initial policy deals when these exist. As such, policy state­ments of the coalition agreement facilitate decision making in each of the countries studied.

Keywords: coalition governments; post-electoral coalition agreements; pre-electoral coalition agreements; Belgium; Germany; Italy; Netherlands

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