Modeling the institutional foundation of parliamentary government formation

Matt Golder, Sona N. Golder, David A. Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


That neither the assumptions nor the predictions of standard government formation models entirely correspond to empirical findings has led some to conclude that theoretical accounts of government formation should be reconsidered from the bottom up. We take up this challenge by presenting a zero-intelligence model of government formation. In our model, three or more parties that care about office and policy make random government proposals. The only constraints that we impose on government formation correspond to the two binding constitutional constraints that exist in all parliamentary systems: An incumbent government always exists and all governments must enjoy majority legislative support. Despite its deliberately limited structure, our model predicts distributions over portfolio allocation, government types, and bargaining delays that approach those observed in the real world. Our analysis suggests that many formation outcomes may result from the institutional foundation of parliamentary democracies, independent of the strategic behavior of party leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-445
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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