Question #3: What factors affect government stability in European countries? Why might a cabinet resign? What happens next?
There are many different factors that that affect government stability in European countries. More stable countries such as Spain and Britain tend to last a full parliamentary term. Other countries in Europe such as Italy and Finland, while stable occasionally struggle to reach a full parliamentary term and dissolve before it can be reached. The common measure that is used to determine whether the government has survived its full term is that on government ends and a new government takes office because the members of the cabinet change. There are certain attributes about cabinets themselves and aspects of the political environment that can contribute to the level of government stability.
Cabinet attributes can be a helpful determinant of the stability of a government. For example, research shows single party governments tend to survive longer than coalition style government. Additionally, it has also been found that majority governments last longer than minority governments. Minority coalition governments therefore being the least stable. If the cabinet is fragmented ideologically this is also tends to reduce the cabinet’s longevity. System attributes also affect the life span of a stable government in Europe. Specifically, when the system holds large numbers of smaller parties it can lead to instability due to the unstable parliamentary arithmetic. If this situation is true for a system, the fragmented parties and if the ideological polarization of the party system is high, the government stability is usually producing a less durable cabinet.
It is also important to consider the affects that critical events may have on a government’s duration and stability. Unpredictable events will easily take out governments that lack durability. Governments that are more durable are able to bounce back from critical events and remain strong. A cabinet may resign for a number of reasons, due to unforeseen circumstances in less durable governments or the turnover of cabinet ministers. Following a cabinet resignation there is a period of instability for the country as new elections are needed. An early election provides politicians with less time and therefore less incentive to keep the current government in place.
Given my opinion on whether politicians are more office or policy oriented, I think most are more office oriented. I think this because in a majoritarian political system there is more competition about which party will lead office. The policies and goals of these parties are what come second in elections or campaigns. I think a lot of politicians are more concerned with how the public views them and how they can gain the most followers. Many politicians are known to “support” issues or concerns from the public to make it seem like they are paying attention to the public’s troubles. This is a tactic to get more votes, to say you support an issue and vow to improve the issue but as soon as the candidate is in office (if they win) will sometimes dish that problem away and not put as much effort into change as they once said.
In majoritarian political systems these are usually dominated by 2 popular political parties. An example of this system is the United States, we have republican and democrat parties. The United States does have an independent party, but it is not as popular as republican and democrat. In majoritarian systems I feel as though campaigning is almost like “who can put on the best show” and “who can visit the most areas”. This might be a dramatic opinion, but campaign rallies are always such large events and almost persuade followers to act extremely out of character. These events want to bring the most politically active followers to show what a great crowd they bring and what a great candidate they are.
I believe most politicians are office oriented because of the fact they cannot bring any change to policies unless they are in office or propose it to the winning candidate. I find in majoritarian electoral systems they are more office oriented because say one party wins the previous election year, that same party would want to win again to continue their work progress. They only want to continue winning because they have the power and usually if an alternative party wins, the progress will be lost. The first goal is to win the elections and then act on the proposed changes. On the other side of things, I do see how some politicians can be more policy related because they feel so strongly about their beliefs but it is hard for me to believe that would be the case in a majoritarian political system.
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