The impact of government participation and prospects on party policy preferences in Belgium

Regis Dandoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the impact of government prospects and government participation on party policy preferences. Comparing the content of manifestos of governing and opposition parties in Belgium during three decades, I observed that the relationship of a party to the act of governing influences the content of its manifesto. In that sense, party preferences are not only driven by ideology and vote-seeking arguments but are part of a larger party strategy: parties adapt their electoral platform when they are in government or are willing to enter into it. The conclusion of the article also discusses the literature on government formation. Such literature hypothesizes that parties that are ideologically similar would form a coalition. However, results for the Belgian case demonstrate that parties strategically adapt their electoral platform when wanting to enter the government. Coalitions are made up of parties with similar policy preferences, not because they 'are' alike but because parties strategically 'make' them alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-656
Number of pages28
JournalGovernment and Opposition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Sept 11
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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