Project C3:

“Strong” vs. “weak” governments and the challenge of economic reforms



Prof. Dr. Wolfgang C. Müller


Professor Dr. Hanna Bäck / Benjamin Nyblade, Ph.D.

 Duration:01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021



In this project we study economic policy-making in a set of EU member states. Our focus is on governments and their willingness and capacity to introduce structural reforms in social policy, tax policy, labour market policy, and other economic policy. We investigate conditions in the composition, internal organisation, and environment of governments that foster or, conversely, hinder reform policies. For that purpose we have built an unprecedented comparative data-set of government ambitions (as contained in government declarations and other official communications) and policy outputs (as reported by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the OECD) in the first funding period. Our main analytical contributions are in the further development of the main theoretical accounts about reform behaviour in the previous literature. Most importantly, we suggest that theories stressing the importance of the number of actors in government, arguing that multiparty government may be plagued by both “veto player deadlock” and “common pool problems”, need to take into account that certain so called “coalition governance” mechanisms may have been introduced, rendering some multiparty governments better equipped when it comes to dealing with reform pressure and reformmaking. The first funding period has been dedicated to further developing our theoretical agenda, to building our data-set, and to testing some of our hypotheses with existing data. In the second funding period we aim for comprehensive testing of our theoretical expectations with the newly collected data while expanding both the time series and the country coverage.