web analytics

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.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Put our most vulnerable first
    Don’t forget whānau and communities most at risk, says the Green Party, as the Government lays out its three-phase plan for Omicron. ...
    2 days ago
  • Boosting our immunity against Omicron
    With Omicron in the community, it’s vital we all do our bit to help to slow the spread, keep each other safe and protect our health system. One of the most important ways we can reduce the risk of Omicron is to get a booster dose as soon as we’re ...
    2 days ago
  • Equitable response to Omicron vital
    The Green Party supports the Government’s decision to move Aotearoa New Zealand to traffic light level Red at 11.59pm tonight, but says its success will depend on the support that is made available to the most vulnerable. ...
    5 days ago
  • How we’re preparing for Omicron
    As countries around the world experience Omicron outbreaks, we’re taking steps now to ensure we’re as prepared as possible and our communities are protected. ...
    1 week ago
  • What’s Labour achieved so far?
    Quite a bit! This Government was elected to take on the toughest issues facing Aotearoa – and that’s what we’re doing. Since the start of the pandemic, protecting lives and livelihoods has been a priority, but we’ve also made progress on long-term challenges, to deliver a future the next generation ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Tackling the big issues in 2022
    This year, keeping Kiwis safe from COVID will remain a key priority of the Government – but we’re also pushing ahead on some of New Zealand’s biggest long-term challenges. In 2022, we’re working to get more Kiwis into homes, reduce emissions, lift children out of poverty, and ensure people get ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Penguin rehab and native forest restoration get helping hand
    A long-running penguin rehab facility which has been hard hit by the tourism downturn, and work to restore native forest habitats in the Catlins are being supported through Jobs for Nature funding, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. Otago’s Penguin Place and The Hokonui Rūnanga Catlins Biodiversity Project will receive combined ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Resilient economy reflected in Crown accounts
    The Government’s financial accounts continue to reflect a resilient economy that has performed better than expected and puts the country in a strong position to respond to Omicron, Grant Robertson said. The Crown Accounts for the five months to the end of November were more favourable than forecast in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Government announces three phase public health response to Omicron
    Reducing isolation period for cases and close contacts at Phase Two and Three to 10 and seven days Definition of close contact required to isolate changes to household or household like contacts at Phase Three Increased use of rapid antigen tests with test to return policy put in place for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Ambassador to Thailand announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Jonathan Kings as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Thailand. “Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-standing relationship with Thailand, celebrating the 65th anniversary of diplomatic representation between our countries in 2021. We also share much in common at regional and multilateral levels ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government’s Family Package continues to deliver for New Zealanders
    The Families Package helped around 330,000 families in its first year - more than half of all families with children in NZ These families received an estimated $55 per week more from Families Package payments in 2018/19 than in 2017/18, on average Families Package increases to the maximum possible Accommodation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand retains top spot in global anti-corruption rankings
    Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has welcomed news of New Zealand’s ongoing position as top in the world anti-corruption rankings. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index released by global anti-corruption organisation, Transparency International, ranks New Zealand first equal with Denmark and Finland, with a score of 88 out of 100. “This is an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Testing improvements see New Zealand well prepared for Omicron
    New Zealand’s PCR testing capacity can be increased by nearly 20,000 tests per day to deal with a surge in cases as part of our wider COVID-19 testing strategy, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We have continued to adapt our public health response to safeguard the health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • 5,000 portable air cleaners for schools on their way
    As schools are preparing to return, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 5,000 air cleaners have been ordered for New Zealand schools. “As we know, along with vaccination, testing, good hygiene and physical distancing, good ventilation is important in minimising the risk of airborne transmission of the virus that causes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today
    All of New Zealand will move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm today as Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region are now confirmed as Omicron, and a further ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Mandatory boosters for key workforces progressing well
    More than 5,785 (82%) border workers eligible for a booster vaccination at 6 months have received it so far, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says. “That’s a really strong uptake considering we announced the requirement the week before Christmas, but we need to continue this momentum,” Chris Hipkins said. “We ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • NZ to move to Red
    Nine COVID-19 cases reported yesterday in the Nelson/Marlborough region have now been confirmed as the Omicron variant, and a further case from the same household was confirmed late yesterday. These cases are in a single family that flew to Auckland on 13 January to attend a wedding and other events ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide further help for Tonga
    Aotearoa New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. This brings Aotearoa New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million. “This support will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Quarterly benefit numbers show highest number of exits into work
    The Government’s strong focus on supporting more people into work is reflected in benefit figures released today which show a year-on-year fall of around 21,300 people receiving a main benefit in the December 2021 quarter, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said. “Our response to COVID has helped ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Northland to move to Orange, NZ prepared for Omicron 
    Northland to move to Orange Rest of New Zealand stays at Orange in preparedness for Omicron All of New Zealand to move into Red in the event of Omicron community outbreak – no use of lockdowns Govt planning well advanced – new case management, close contact definition and testing rules ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu
    A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga
    New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today. “Following the successful surveillance and reconnaissance flight of a New Zealand P-3K2 Orion on Monday, imagery and details have been sent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga
    The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says. “Damage assessments are under way and New Zealand has formally offered to provide assistance to Tonga,” said Nanaia Mahuta. New Zealand has made an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Record high of new homes consented continues
    In the year ended November 2021, 48,522 new homes were consented, up 26 per cent from the November 2020 year. In November 2021, 4,688 new dwellings were consented. Auckland’s new homes consented numbers rose 25 per cent in the last year. Annual figures for the last nine months show more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Report trumpets scope for ice cream exports
    Latest research into our premium ice cream industry suggests exporters could find new buyers in valuable overseas markets as consumers increasingly look for tip top quality in food. Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash has released a new report for the Food and Beverage Information Project. The project is run by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Honouring the legacy of legendary kaumātua Muriwai Ihakara
    Associate Minister for Arts, Culture, and Heritage Kiri Allan expressed her great sadness and deepest condolences at the passing of esteemed kaumātua, Muriwai Ihakara. “Muriwai’s passing is not only a loss for the wider creative sector but for all of Aotearoa New Zealand. The country has lost a much beloved ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Have your say on proposed changes to make drinking water safer
    Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer. “The current regulations are not fit for purpose and don’t offer enough protection, particularly for those whose water comes from smaller supplies,” Kiri Allan said. “This ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Planting the seeds for rewarding careers
    A boost in funding for a number of Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury will provide sustainable employment opportunities for more than 70 people, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says. “The six projects are diverse, ranging from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago