Parliamentary Control of the Executive and the Duration of Government Formation

Lasse Aaskoven*, Shane Martin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


One particularly striking difference between parliamentary democracies is the length of time it takes to form a government after a general election, with consequences for governability and democratic accountability. This study contributes to the literature on government formation duration by exploring whether parties find it more difficult to form a government when parliament has greater control over what the executive can do. All else equal, parliamentary control reduces cabinet autonomy, meaning parties face greater uncertainty as to whether they will be able to achieve their policy goals if they enter government. This institution-generated incomplete information exacerbates bargaining uncertainty and ultimately increases bargaining delays during government formation. Using newly collected data on two measures of parliamentary control – committee powers and budgetary powers – covering 36 non-presidential countries, we find that post-election government formation tends to take more time in countries where parliamentary control of the cabinet is stronger.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLegislative Studies Quarterly
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Washington University in St. Louis.


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