Abiding Gamson’s Hypothesis? Radical-Right Coalitions and Ministerial Distributions


Over the past few decades, radical-right parties have found themselves serving more often in government coalitions. In this paper I investigate the partisan makeup of these emergent coalitions to determine the ways in which they converge and diverge with our understanding of more mainstream governments. In this way I ask two important questions: first, does the number of ministries held by such parties differ from what junior coalition members are typically afforded? Second, which ministries themselves are typically awarded to these radical-right partners? By collecting data on all coalitions in Europe that included at least one radical-right minister since 1989, I first find that Gamson’s classical hypothesis on ministerial distribution is typically adhered to: radical-right parties tend to hold a share of cabinet ministries proportionate to their share of government seats. In terms of the specific portfolios they are typically awarded, however, I find dramatic differences vis-à-vis moderate coalitions. These findings provide important insights into radical-right parties and improve our understanding of coalition bargaining dynamics in Europe.


[back to research]