Working paper
The inflated measures of governmental instability
Sciences Po LIEPP Working Paper
SHOMER Yael - Tel Aviv University (TAU) (Auteur)
RASCH Björn Erik - University of Oslo (UiO) (Auteur)
AKIRAV Osnat - Western Galilee College (Auteur)
Paris : Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d'évaluation des politiques publiques
Sciences Po LIEPP Working Paper : 96
Mots clés
government stability, partisan composition, parliamentary democracies
Most analyzes of government instability in parliamentary democracies rests on a standard definition of what counts as a new government. Three criteria are used. A new government exists whenever there is a new Prime Minister, after the occurrence of a general election, and whenever the partisan composition of the government changes. Obviously fruitful in many respects, the definition is problematic if we are interested in the political phenomenon of government stability and instability; governmental durability based on the standard definition of governments is not a valid and useful measure of stability in many parliamentary systems. We argue that this measure from one perspective is too inclusive (not any change in government's partisan composition signifies instability), and from another angle too narrow (focusing almost exclusively on a government as a whole.) We investigate how changes in conceptualization of what constitute new governments, affects the degree of instability in parliamentary democracies. Clearly, definitions make a difference and we demonstrate that countries might be characterized as unstable from one perspective, yet stable from another. Clearly, the commonly used definition of government used to measure government duration inflates instability, at least for some countries. We demonstrate that using more precise definitions of government longevity - ones that do not equate any changes in government's partisan composition as a sign of instability - yield important ramifications for the rank-order of countries' governments instability.