Coalition Structures and Policy Change in a Consensus Democracy

Fischer, Manuel (2014). Coalition Structures and Policy Change in a Consensus Democracy. Policy studies journal, 42(3), pp. 344-366. Policy Studies Organization 10.1111/psj.12064

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This paper studies the relation between coalition structures in policy processes and policy change. While different factors such as policy images, learning processes, external events, or venue shopping are important to explain policy change, coalition structures within policy processes are often neglected. However, policy change happens as a result of negotiations and coordination among coalitions within policy processes. The paper analyzes how conflict, collaboration, and power relations among coalitions of actors influence policy change in an institutional context of a consensus democracy. Empirically, I rely on a Qualitative Comparative Analysis to conduct a cross-sector comparison of the 11 most important policy processes in Switzerland between 2001 and 2006. Coalition structures with low conflict and strong collaboration among coalitions as well as structures with dominant coalitions and weak collaboration both facilitate major policy change. Competing coalitions that are separated by strong conflict but still collaborate strongly produce policy outputs that are close to the status quo.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Manuel (B)


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Policy Studies Organization




Manuel Fischer

Date Deposited:

25 Mar 2015 11:27

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

policy change, coalition structure, consensus democracy, policy process, Qualitative Comparative Analysis




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