web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Polity: Data on moral mandates in Europe

Written By: - Date published: 4:04 pm, February 14th, 2014 - 3 comments
Categories: election 2014, electoral systems, Europe, MMP, Politics - Tags:

The original post appeared here on Polity.

Following my post on Monday that the Prime Ministers of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden don’t have John Key’s “moral mandate,” I have done some more digging. I wanted to know whether a leader really does have a kind of “first dibs” on the policy direction of a country by virtue of leading the single largest party, regardless of how the rest of the parties fared. Is this how the world of proportional representation really works?

To find out, I looked at the results of 237 West European PR elections since World War 2, searching for any governments formed immediately after an election that exclude the plurality (single largest) party.1

If basically no European governments excluded the largest party, then that would give Key’s moral mandate line some credibility. If excuding the largest party was nothing out of the ordinary, however, that would blow Key’s principle away. A really interesting pattern emerged in the data (data table at the bottom of the post).

In Northern Europe (Scandinavia; Low Countries; Germany; Austria), excluding the plurality party is not unusual at all. Over 21% of post-election cabinets exclude the largest party, including over 31% in Scandinavia. A full 38 post-election cabinets excluded the plurality party in these countries, including the current governments in five countries – the three I named before, plus Belgium and Luxembourg.

But in Southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece), there were no post-election cabinets, at all, that exclucded the plurality party.

I’m sure Key isn’t exactly lining up to argue that Greek and Italian democracy are the exemplars of righteousness and stability to which we should aspire, but they are the places where his moral mandate principle holds. In the countries we normally look to in terms of democratic governance appear much more relaxed about allowing the most popular coalition to govern, whether it includes the plurality party or not.

I really hope this issue isn’t a big one in the election campaign, because is it ultimately about little more than self-aggrandising semantics. But for the issue to go away, someone has to show that this particular rhetorical Emperor is poorly clothed. Hopefully these data go some way towards doing that.

Country Elections

since WW2

Post-election cabinets

excluding plurality party

NORTH
Austria 21 1
Belgium 21 3
Denmark 26 10
Finland 19 3
Germany 18 3
Luxembourg 16 2
Netherlands 21 3
Norway 18 8
Sweden 20 5
SOUTH
Greece 15 0
Italy 18 0
Portugal 13 0
Spain 11 0
  • 1. I excluded Switzerland from the analysis because of its semi-permanent grand coalition arrangement. For Germany, I counted the CDU/CSU as one party, due to their permanent coalition.

3 comments on “Polity: Data on moral mandates in Europe”

  1. greywarbler 1

    Key has a mandate – no he hasn’t, he’s just a naughty boy. The argument has raged. Key and some of his tame jonos have talked about having a majority government in FPP style. This is a great post and no doubt whipped up in 5 minutes!!

    So the question was what do the Europeans do, they have a number of differing approaches and a comparison with 237 PR post WW2 governments in Europe show.

    Did they ever exclude a majority party from taking the government position, and instead have coalition governments? Yes they did, except in Greece, and other southern countries.

    In Northern Europe (Scandinavia; Low Countries; Germany; Austria), excluding the plurality party is not unusual at all.
    Over 21% of post-election cabinets exclude the largest party, including over 31% in Scandinavia.

    So Key has to change his tune, Begin the Beguine, and we hope, dance away.

  2. Mooloo magic 2

    I think those of us who are supporters of left wing social democrat politics need to be very concerned that after six year of the odious John key and his dreadful henchmen/women that they are polling so well, after six difficult years.
    It is most disappointing that the Left cannot seem to capture the support of enough New Zealanders to put Key’s tenure at risk in November. Current polling suggest Key is near unbeatable come November. Most depressing another three years of National will mean a lot of Kiwis will remain in the poverty trap and unemployed or for the employed more years on the minimum wage. We live in strange times. The so called ‘ Rock Star economy’ will only benefit the rich the rest of us will see no improvement to wages and standard of living other then it will almost get worse.

  3. DS 3

    For completeness sake: the Republic of Ireland has had 19 parliamentary elections since WWII, 5 of them omitting the largest party (6 if you include a mid-term government change in the 1990s). Iceland has had 21 elections, 4 of which omitted the largest party (6 if you include a couple of mid-term government swaps).

    It’s even happened in the UK, home of First Past the Post, though not since 1923: in 1923 the Tories win 258 seats, Labour 191, and the Liberals 158. A minority Labour Government is installed, with Liberal support.

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Taxpayers not suckers when it comes to casino lemon
    The Government should not be asking New Zealanders to stump up extra cash to bail out John Key and Steven Joyce’s dodgy SkyCity convention centre deal, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. "A deal is a deal is a deal. SkyCity… ...
    5 days ago
  • Supreme Court decision an early Christmas present
    Women on low pay in New Zealand have been given an early Christmas present with yesterday’s decision by  the Supreme Court not to intervene in a decision of the Court of Appeal, says Labour's Spokesperson for Women's Affairs, Sue Moroney. … ...
    5 days ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    6 days ago
  • Dunedin Hospital needs more than drip feed
    An ongoing and embarrassing pattern of major building leaks and equipment failures at Dunedin Public Hospital has been revealed in papers released under the Official Information Act, Dunedin North MP David Clark says. “Documents released under the Official Information Act… ...
    6 days ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    6 days ago
  • 17 too young for teens to be shown the door
    Laws which see young people under the care of CYFS abandoned once they turn 17 will mean at least a dozen young Kiwis will be left to fend for themselves over the December festive season, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda  Ardern… ...
    6 days ago
  • National’s albatross, taxpayers’ curse
    Government consideration of further corporate welfare hand-outs to SkyCity for its convention centre shows just how weak the original contract was, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark says. “Taxpayers will be appalled to hear that on top of the humiliating… ...
    6 days ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Recognizing Palestine: The European Parliament Votes
    Last week I wrote a blog drawing attention to Sweden’s formal recognition of the state of Palestine (the second Western state to do so after Iceland).  That move has created ripples throughout the international community. In recent months the parliaments… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister has work to do over Xmas
    Red flags raised in a multi-agency review into how Phillip Smith was able to flee the country highlight the inadequacies of those very same agencies not having red flags in place that would have notified them of his plans, says… ...
    1 week ago
  • Gerry Brownlee’s revolving airport door story
    A new report shows Gerry Brownlee is the latest Cabinet Minister to have contracted the infectious tell-porkies-until-you-are-caught disease, Labour’s Chief Whip Chris Hipkins says. “A Civil Aviation Report out today shows that despite being an extremely recognisable figure, Gerry Brownlee… ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt spend on transport out of step with reality
    The National Government is planning to allocate ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding to build expensive new motorways despite record numbers of New Zealanders flocking to buses and trains, said the Green Party. The Government released its Government Policy Statement… ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter MP
    1 week ago
  • Solar homes stymied by Govt inaction
    Government inaction is allowing the big power companies to discourage the nascent solar power sector, the Green Party said today. Green Party MP Gareth Hughes launched a petition today calling on the Government to empower the Electricity Authority to act… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Foreign buyers for iconic island must add value
    Labour will look very closely at any Overseas Investment Office application to purchase Pakatoa Island if it is not bought by a Kiwi, says Labour’s Land information Spokesperson Stuart Nash. “Pakatoa is an iconic island in the middle of Hauraki… ...
    1 week ago
  • Way opening for April Sun in Cuba
    The United States of America’s President’s historic announcement yesterday to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba should be applauded by the New Zealand Government. The announcement marks a turning point in more than five decades of hostility between the two countries… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    1 week ago
  • Minister ducking for cover over ‘Diplomat Case’
    Apparently the Ministerial Inquiry into what now seems to be being referred to as ‘The Diplomat Case’ ( I have a few other names for it) has been completed and is in front of Foreign Affairs Minister McCully. Initial Reports seem to… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • Energy users need answers on Vector share plans
    Energy Minister Simon Bridges needs to stop ducking for cover about whether or not the Government will support plans to nationalise and then privatise $2.1 billion of shares in the Auckland Electricity Consumer Trust, Labour's Energy spokesperson Stuart Nash says. “It… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Turning up the heat on working conditions
    A “Jobs That Count” campaign has the full support of Labour, the party’s Labour Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. Organised by the Meat Workers Union, the campaign aims to put the spotlight on job insecurity in the meat processing industry. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Biosecurity it’s everyone’s responsibility
    Biosecurity costs New Zealand millions of dollars in attempting pest eradication and much more in ongoing management of pests in farming, horticulture, beekeeping and conservation, as well as in our own backyards and recreation areas. More work must happen at… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to thin...
    Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and… ...
    GreensBy Kevin Hague MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Irresponsible tax cuts lead to seventh successive deficit
    National's borrowing to pay for cutting the top tax rate was irresponsible and will likely lead to a seventh successive deficit, the Green Party said today. Treasury have forecast a $572 million deficit this year in its Half Year Economic… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Heartfelt sympathy for Sydneysiders
    The Labour Party has offered its heartfelt sympathy to the people of Sydney after the hostage situation in the city, says Labour’s Acting leader Grant Robertson.  “Our thoughts are with all those who went through this horrific and traumatic experience. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Farewell at Phillipstown
    Last Wednesday, I attended the farewell for Tony Simpson, Principal of Phillipstown School. It was a very emotional event where many of us in the large crowd shed tears. Bagpipes and tiny tamariki performing kapahaka brought the house down and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • The CIA Torture Report
    Earlier this week, the United States Select Committee on Intelligence released the Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program.  The report, which was five years in the making, looked into the CIA’s interrogation techniques from 2001… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Haere Rā 2014
    We’ve almost reached the end of the Parliamentary year so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my highlights of the term in this blog post. It’s been an absolutely hectic year juggling an election campaign… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ should formally recognise Palestine
    New Zealand should follow the lead of Sweden, and now recognise Palestine as a separate state On 30 October, Sweden’s new government formally recognised the state of Palestine, only the second Western country to do so, after Iceland. Down here… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago

Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere