Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

Federal Arrangements and Multi-Party Systems


Scharpf,  Fritz W.
Projektbereiche vor 1997, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in PuRe
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Scharpf, F. W. (1995). Federal Arrangements and Multi-Party Systems. Australian Journal of Political Science, 30(Special Issue), 27-39.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-511B-E
This paper reviews the impact of federal arrangements on the dynamics of multi-party systems and the consensual character of policy making. The paper focuses specifically on parliamentary regimes with pluralist systems of interest intermediation and competitive party systems. The likely differences in policy making between single-party and coalition governments under both dual and joint-decision federalism is examined. Rational actor postulates are generally assumed. The characteristics of multi-party systems are adumbrated first. Here elections are of less significance in determining programs, interest group influence is strengthened and the possibility of decisive action reduced. Additional permutations or compounding occurs with the overlay of federal arrangements. Variations depend on whether the federalism is dualist or joint decision in character. Dualist federalism may be associated with some positive outcomes, but it barely exists in practice. Joint-decision federalism is now pervasive and Germany presents the most extreme example. In joint-decision systems politicians can represent their government's institutional self interest and/or their partisan interest. The paper draws on international relations literatures to suggest that if outcomes are defined in relative gain terms, cooperation is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Such outcomes are the likely feature of joint-decision federal systems with divided control. The paper concludes that the joint-decision structure resembles a trap which, under its own decision rules, cannot be changed by the actors who are caught in it.