Working paper

Dissolution Power, Confidence Votes, and Policymaking in Parliamentary Democracies

Michael Becher


There is striking variation across parliamentary democracies in the power of prime ministers to employ two prominent procedures to resolve legislative conflict: the vote of confidence and the dissolution of parliament. While previous contributions in comparative politics have investigated each of these two fundamental institutions in isolation, I develop a simple unified model to unbundle how this richer variety of institutional configurations shapes political bargaining over policy. The analysis clarifies that the effects of the confidence vote and dissolution power interact. As a consequence, there can be a non-monotonic effect of increasing prime ministers’ formal power on their ability to shape the policy compromise. Counterintuitively, introducing dissolution power makes the prime minister worse off under some conditions. These results suggest new directions for empirical research on the consequences of parliamentary institutions for legislative politics and policy. They also lay analytical foundations for explaining institutional variation and reforms.

JEL codes

  • D72: Political Processes: Rent-Seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

Replaced by

Michael Becher, Dissolution Power, Confidence Votes, and Policymaking in Parliamentary Democracies, Journal of Theoretical Politics, vol. 31, n. 2, March 1, 2019, pp. 183–208.

See also

Published in

IAST working paper, n. 18-80, May 2018