Parties and government: Incumbency and representation in parliamentary democracies

H. Keman

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In spite of large electoral changes since the 1990s, party composition of government changes less and established parties stay longer in office than others regardless their electoral fortunes. This development is conducive to incongruence between the parties represented in parliament and those in government. It is argued that office-seeking behaviour tends to become more prominent, resulting in dominant (strongest parliamentary party) and central parties show a prolonged incumbency. If dominance and centrality occur simultaneously a pivot party emerges. This type of party is indeed characterized by prolonged incumbency of government that is often considered as political stability. This development is analysed for 16 West European democracies (before and after 1990). I contend that a representative bias has emerged that could signify a change in the representative quality of representative government in Western Europe. Stable government, when based upon less correspondence between party representation in parliament and party representation in government, may have come at a price for overall representative of democracy. © 2011 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-24
JournalActa Politica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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