Ministrables and government formation: Munchkins, players and big beasts of the jungle

Michael Laver, Kenneth A. Shepsle

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many models of government formation pay particular attention to certain key political actors. Schofield, for example, uses the concept of the 'core party', while Laver and Shepsle focus on 'strong parties'. Such parties have an important position in bargaining over government formation because they are in certain circumstances able to form minority governments on their own. In practical terms, this implies controlling the entire political machinery of government without help from other parties. An important matter hitherto ignored in theoretical discussions of government formation is the possibility that actors with pivotal positions in such models may in practice simply not have access to the political resources they need to exploit these. There may well be 'small' parties that are well located in terms of some model of government formation, but which cannot capitalize upon this position for lack of access to sufficient political talent. This paper explores the implications of this phenomenon for government formation, showing that the failure of one or more parties in the system to have sufficient political resources to control a national government single-handed can involve striking reallocations of bargaining power.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)113-124
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Theoretical Politics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 2000


    • Coalitions
    • Government formation
    • Power
    • Small parties

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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