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Prof. Dr. Sven-Oliver Proksch

MINORITYRULE - Democracy without Majorities: Political Representation under Minority Rule


About the Project

The goal of MINORITYRULE is to provide a systematic analysis of the implications of minority governments for political representation in democracies. Political representation refers to the link between what citizens want and what politicians do. In parliamentary democracies, this link is established through elections, and majority rule, the aggregation of preferences, is one of the core principles of representative democracy. Ultimately, laws can only pass in parliament if a majority of elected representatives approves. Yet, minority governments – in which the political parties in cabinet do not have majority support in parliament – are a common feature in parliamentary democracies. 

The implications of the phenomenon of this kind of minority rule for the functioning of democracy and political representation are possibly far-reaching. 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. MINORITYRULE investigates how minority governments affect the intensity of political polarization between political parties during parliamentary debates and election campaigns, how it constrains or enables the responsiveness of governments to public opinion at the national and European level, and how citizens evaluate the legitimacy of decisions taken by minority governments as opposed to majority governments.

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. 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.


Work Packages

Work Package 1: Political Polarization

​The goal of WP1 is to investigate the consequences of minority governments for the level of political polarization in political debates under minority and majority government, both in parliament and during election campaigns. Through a combination of novel cross-national data on parliamentary debates and electoral campaigns it solves the crucial research problem of studying political polarization in a holistic manner across countries and time.

Work Package 2: Government Responsiveness

​WP2 investigates if the majority status affects the responsiveness of governments in national and supranational policy-making. By combining the national and supranational level, it will have a strong impact on comparative research on governments and representation, which has tended to focus on one level and ignore the other. The results will be essential to understand how minority rule affects the responsiveness to public opinion in an increasingly international political world.

Work Package 3: Citizen Evaluations

WP3 studies citizen perceptions of minority governments. It will conduct survey experiments which allow to study perceptions holding contextual factors such as comparable policy developments and issues constant. Moreover, it enables a comparison of national and European responsiveness of minority and majority governments, opening a new research area in the broader field of multilevel public opinion.



This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 101002115).