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New DFG Project at the Cologne Center for Comparative Politics

On May 01, 2023, an international project on "Institutional rules and their effects on cabinet and ministerial durability in advanced democracies " was launched at the Cologne Center for Comparative Politics.

The project is led by Dr.habil. Elena Semenova, Prof. André Kaiser (both University of Cologne), and the Mercator Fellow in the project, Prof. Keith Dowding (Australian National University). The German Research Foundation funds the project with the total funding of 333.400,00 Euro.



Among the most consequential elements of constitutional design in democratic systems are the rules on parliamentary dissolution, presidential elections, and presidential powers. These rules condition the timing of elections; influence electoral accountability; and shape how politicians negotiate government formation, termination, and policy. Cabinet durability is one important measure of governmental stability that is impacted by the powers granted to various political actors. Nevertheless, very little scholarship has addressed the effects of constitutional provisions on ministerial and cabinet durability, despite the importance of understanding both factors in governmental stability. For example, it may be that the high durability of individual ministers can compensate for low cabinet durability and vice versa.

This research uses the literature on early elections, semi-presidentialism, cabinet replacement, and ministerial careers as a basis for addressing two innovative research questions: (1) How is cabinet durability impacted by parliamentary dissolution powers, semi-presidentialism (i.e., the existence of a popularly elected president), and presidential powers to dismiss cabinets and appoint ministers? (2) How do these factors affect the durability of the ministers in these cabinets? The innovative aspect of this approach is its focus on both cabinets and their ministers.

The project covers the range and scope of constitutional rules in 46 developed democracies since 1945. It first looks at the effects of institutional rules on the likelihood of cabinet dissolution and cabinet replacement in developed democracies. Second, it examines the effects of the same institutional rules on individual ministerial durability.