Coalition Politics and Cabinet Decision Making

A Comparative Analysis of Foreign Policy Choices

Subjects: Political Science, International Relations, Comparative Politics
Paperback : 9780472035465, 352 pages, 40 tables, 6 x 9, August 2013
Hardcover : 9780472118243, 352 pages, 40 tables, 6 x 9, April 2012
Ebook : 9780472028344, 368 pages, 40 tables, April 2012
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Kaarbo assesses the nature and quality of coalition decision-making in foreign policy

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Every day, coalition cabinets make policy decisions critical to international politics. Juliet Kaarbo examines the dynamics of these multiparty cabinets in parliamentary democracies in order to assess both the quality of coalition decision making and the degree to which coalitions tend to favor peaceful or military solutions. Are coalition cabinets so riddled by conflict that they cannot make foreign policy effectively, or do the multiple voices represented in the cabinet create more legitimate and imaginative responses to the international system? Do political and institutional constraints inherent to coalition cabinets lead to nonaggressive policies? Or do institutional and political forces precipitate more belligerent behavior?

Employing theory from security studies and political psychology as well as a combination of quantitative cross-national analyses and twelve qualitative comparative case studies of foreign policy made by coalition cabinets in Japan, the Netherlands, and Turkey, Kaarbo identifies the factors that generate highly aggressive policies, inconsistency, and other policy outcomes. Her findings have implications not merely for foreign policy but for all types of decision making and policy-making by coalition governments.


Juliet Kaarbo is Senior Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.

"[Kaarbo's] insights into the relationship between coalition governments and foreign policy outcomes add greatly to the understanding of democratic governance. Highly recommended." 
—T.D. Lancaster, Choice

- T.D. Lancaster