Project C1:

Legislative reforms and party competition



Prof. Dr. Thomas König / Prof. Nikoleta Yordanova, Ph.D. / Jun.-Prof. Galina Zudenkova, Ph.D.



Xiao Lu, PhD. / Thiago Nascimento da Silva


Shaun Bevan, Ph.D. / Prof. Sven-Oliver Proksch, Ph.D.

 Duration:01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021



Project C1 investigates the (in)ability of governments to initiate and adopt policy reforms in parliamentary systems. The primary research goal of the first phase was to study how party competition and coalition policy-making affect the initiation of reforms from a comparative perspective. In parliamentary systems, ministers are responsible for coalition governance by drafting (coalition) reform initiatives, which can be scrutinized, amended and rejected in cabinet and parliament. To understand the reform process in coalition governments, we developed a formal model of coalition governance with two coalition partners that explains when ministers initiate proposals, when coalition partners challenge ministerial drafts, and when coalition governments as a whole fail to propose reforms. We tested the empirical implications of our model regarding legislative initiation using a comparative legislation dataset. To analyse the pre-legislative agenda stage, we generated novel data on the exogenous reform demand in Germany and Austria for a twenty-year period.

The second phase of the project will continue to investigate the role of political parties in the initiation, duration, and outcomes of legislative reforms by modelling more realistic scenarios of reform-making within and across parliamentary systems. For this purpose, we aim to extend the project’s theoretical and empirical scope. In particular, our goal is to incorporate two central, but so far omitted, aspects of parliamentary systems into the model: (1) the central role of prime ministers in reform-making, clarifying their powers to influence ministers and coalition partners, and (2) the role of opposition parties as outside options for coalition members, analysing their effect on reform-making. We will also expand our research design beyond our initial pilot study in Austria and Germany by (1) including additional Western as well as Central and East European countries and (2) integrating policy agenda data from the Comparative Agendas Project. This will allow us to study legislative reforms and party competition as well as test our theoretical predictions across a wider range of governments and party configurations in parliamentary systems.