Cabinet Reshuffles and Parliamentary No‑Confidence Motions

Abstract

How do cabinet reshuffles affect the parliamentary opposition’s use of no-confidence motions in the government? Opposition parties employ no-confidence motions as electoral signals to highlight government incompetence, and to position themselves as a government in waiting. We argue that cabinet reshuffles - by which prime ministers respond to policy failures, scandals, poor ministerial performance, and disloyalty - present an opportunity for the opposition to deploy no-confidence motions to this end. The incentives for this strategy, however, are contingent on the nature of the party system and are greatest where party system concentration positions a single opposition party as the alternative to the government and sole beneficiary of a no-confidence vote. We test this expectation using a multilevel modelling approach applied to data on reshuffles in 316 governments and sixteen parliamentary democracies, and find support for our expectation: Cabinet reshuffles raise the probability of no-confidence motions conditional on party system concentration.

Publication
Government and Opposition. FirstView
Thomas G. Fleming
Thomas G. Fleming
Lecturer

Lecturer in British and Comparative Politics at University College London, United Kingdom.

Bastián González-Bustamante
Bastián González-Bustamante
DPhil (PhD) Researcher

DPhil (PhD) Researcher in the Department of Politics and International Relations and St Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

Petra Schleiter
Petra Schleiter
Joint Head of Department

Joint Head of Department of Politics and International Relations and Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.