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Petia Kostadinova and Robert Thomson

This chapter explores a cornerstone of democratic theory: the idea that parties mediate the effect of public opinion on government policies. It begins by discussing whether elections give parties a mandate to pursue their campaign promises, a supposition that many political theorists find problematic. The chapter then reviews theories that predict and explain post-election coalition formation, as the type of government formed affects parties’ success in shaping government policies. Finally, the chapter reviews three of the main approaches to studying the impact of parties on public policies: welfare state models, public spending, and the keeping of election campaign promises.


Wolfgang C. Müller

This chapter examines the decision-making modes of governments and their capacities to govern, with particular emphasis on bureaucracies that support governments in their tasks of ruling and administrating the country. It first presents the relevant definitions before discussing different modes of government that reflect the internal balance of power: presidential government, cabinet government, prime ministerial government, and ministerial government. It then considers the autonomy of government, especially from political parties and the permanent bureaucracy, along with the political capacity of governments, the relevance of unified versus divided government, majority versus minority government, and single-party versus coalition government. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the bureaucratic capacities of government, focusing on issues such as classic bureaucracy, the politicization of bureaucracies, and New Public Management systems.