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Successive Minority Governments – Yet Cooperation and Policy Reform

Flemming Juul Christiansen (Roskilde University, Denmark)
Peter Heyn Nielsen (Roskilde University, Denmark)

Public Governance in Denmark

ISBN: 978-1-80043-713-5, eISBN: 978-1-80043-712-8

Publication date: 23 February 2022


Minority governments are more common in Denmark than in any other parliamentary democracy. Internationally, the literature associates minority governments with short-lived, inefficient governments. Yet this is not the case in Denmark. Here, successive governments have served full terms in recent decades and managed to pass large numbers of substantive reforms. This chapter considers how Danish minority governments manage to cope so well and whether polarisation and populism may challenge the solutions to this apparent paradox. The legislative bargaining and agreements (politiske forlig) between government and opposition parties are highly institutionalised, giving opposition parties policy influence and procedural privileges almost akin to cabinet parties – but only on the items on which agreement has been reached. The government is therefore able to maintain flexibility. Danish governments have also increased their hierarchical coordination, both in the form of policy through coalition agreements and internally in the form of cabinet committees and a strengthened Prime Minister's Office. The argument here is that these changes make it easier for a government to negotiate as a coherent unit, and the fact that the parties on the respective ideological wings of the Folketing are also included in negotiations and agreements means that polarisation does not seem to affect minority government performance.



Christiansen, F.J. and Nielsen, P.H. (2022), "Successive Minority Governments – Yet Cooperation and Policy Reform", Krogh, A.H., Agger, A. and Triantafillou, P. (Ed.) Public Governance in Denmark, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 77-92.



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