Svenja Krauss: Substitutes or Complements? The Interdependence between Coalition Agreements and Parliamentary Questions as Monitoring Mechanisms in Coalition Agreements
Abstract: Since coalition governments are formed of at least two different parties with diverging preferences, there is a huge potential for shirking and conflict within the government. In order to control their partners, coalition parties can rely on a number of different control mechanisms such as junior ministers, parliamentary committees, and coalition agreements.
More recent studies have shown that parliamentary questions provide an additional tool for government parties to keep tabs on their coalition partners. These control mechanisms, however, do not simply stand alone but might actually reinforce each other. In this article, we focus on these potential interdependencies and analyse if the existence of a coalition agreement increases the number of parliamentary questions asked by the coalition partner.
A well-known problem of coalition agreements is the fact that they are not enforceable in any way. We, however, argue that parliamentary questions are a way to hold the coalition partner accountable to what is written down in the joint agreement. The possibility to ask such questions is highly dependent on the comprehensiveness of these agreements.
The more detailed the coalition agreement, the more potential targets there are for specific parliamentary questions. Accordingly, we hypothesize that parliamentary questions from coalition partners are more frequent, the more detailed the coalition agreement in the respective policy realm. In order to answer this research question, we rely on a newly compiled dataset on parliamentary questions and a comprehensive content coding of coalition agreements in Germany between 1980 and 2017. The results confirm our hypothesis showing that effective monitoring via parliamentary questions depends on a comprehensive coalition agreement.