Support for Minority Government: Three Tests


Yannick Dufresne (University of Toronto), Neil Nevitte (University of Toronto), André Blais (Université de Montréal)
Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association National Conference , Chicago, IL, April 1, 2011.

Conventional wisdom has it that first-past-the-post electoral rules usually produce legislative majorities. But minority governments appear to be an increasingly common electoral outcome even in systems operating under those rules. Why, then, do publics support minority governments? The Canadian case is instructive, because it operates under first-past-the-post rules but has now experienced three minority governments in a row. Using Canadian Election Study data, this paper empirically evaluates three explanations for why the publics might support minority governments. The analysis indicates that people support minority government outcomes mostly for partisan strategic reasons. But pragmatic considerations are particularly important and principled motivation also has a small effect.

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