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 Basic Variable 2.03: Cabinet Participation

Some parties are not strong enough to win leadership of the national government (measured by variable 2.02) but are able to gain access to governmental policy making by entering governing coalitions with other parties. While it would be desirable to ascertain the importance and number of ministries a coalition partner holds, this kind of detail is unavailable in the literature. We seek to determine the fact of participating in a governing coalition rather than the amount of governing responsibility the party acquires, and we look for participation in the cabinet at any level. Of course, the party's control of the coalition through the office of prime minister is measured in variable 2.02.

Obviously, variable 2.03 applies most directly to parliamentary systems, but it also seems applicable--albeit to a lesser degree--to cabinets in presidential systems. When the Democratic president of the United States, John Kennedy, named Douglas Dillon, a Republican, as secretary of the treasury, for example, he acted in recognition of the status of the opposition party in American politics.

Operational Definition. In scoring "cabinet participation," we make no judgments concerning the importance of the cabinet within the political system, and we do not evaluate the importance of the cabinet appointee within his party. In the preceding example, for instance, it can be argued that Dillon, while unquestionably a Republican, was never a Republican Party leader; therefore, the Republican Party should not be credited with cabinet participation during the Kennedy administration. On the other hand, acceptance of an opposition party member into the government may reflect the opposition's capacity for indirect influence within the system. Our coding incorporates the latter argument. We credit a party with cabinet participation if any member of the party holds a front-line cabinet position, including the premiership. Following the operational definition for BV202, we express cabinet participation as a proportion of the total years that the party was represented in each half of the period.

TABLE 4.3a: Mid 1950s: Cabinet Participation, Recoded

Coding Results. Virtually every party that claims the government leader (BV202) also participates in the cabinet (BV203), whereas the reverse is not true. This results in higher mean scores for BV203 as shown in Tables 4.3a and 4.3b. The average cabinet participation rate during each part of the period was approximately .50, with participation somewhat greater for the second half. The mean AC codes for both periods were high, and there was no significant correlation between the quality of our data and our scores for the variables. Those who wish to distinguish between "important" and "unimportant" cabinet participation in the substantive analysis of our data are reminded that they need to adjust some of our scores according to their own criteria.

TABLE 4.3b: Early 1960s: Cabinet Participation, Recoded

Basic Variable 2.04: National Participation

Parties are often loosely characterized as solely "regional" or truly "national" in operation. Several factors may underlie this rough classification, including the

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