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Democracy without Majorities: Political Representation under Minority Rule

Project description

The impact of minority government on democracy and political representation

Current theoretical and empirical approaches are unable to provide insights into the implications of minority governments (a common occurrence in parliamentary democracies) on party systems, governmental behaviour and citizens' responses. Contributing to this field, the EU-funded MINORITYRULE project will investigate the effects of governing in minority governments on political representation. The work of the project will result in a new theory on political representation under minority rule and bring to light the conditions in which minority governments can lead without stable majorities in parliament and society.


Minority rule is a frequent phenomenon in many parliamentary democracies. In minority governments, political parties in cabinet neither enjoy majority support in the electorate nor in parliament. Minority rule has become more prevalent in a time when party systems in democracies are experiencing drastic changes. Citizens’ voting behavior has become more volatile, new challenger parties – including populist radical right parties – have permanently entered the political landscape, and parliaments have become more fractionalized. The implications of the increasing phenomenon of minority rule for the functioning of democracy and political representation are possibly far-reaching. Unfortunately, existing theoretical and empirical approaches are insufficient to understand the consequences of minority rule for party systems, governmental behavior, and citizens’ responses. MINORITYRULE’s objective is therefore to provide a broad and systematic comparative analysis of the implications of minority rule for political representation. The project investigates how minority rule affects the intensity of political polarization between political parties during parliamentary debates and election campaigns, how it constrains the responsiveness of governments to public opinion at the national and European level, and how citizens evaluate the legitimacy of minority rule. MINORITYRULE will accomplish these tasks on the basis of an unprecedented comparative data collection using novel multilingual text-as-data approaches and cross-national survey experiments. Ultimately, the project will lead to a new theory of political representation under minority rule. In light of changing party systems, MINORITYRULE will generate new insights about the nature of political representation in which governments rule without stable majorities in parliament and society.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 000 000,00
50931 Koln

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Nordrhein-Westfalen Köln Köln, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 000 000,00

Beneficiaries (1)