Coalition oversight and blame avoidance in Greece

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This article examines the behavior of Greek political parties before, as well as during, the recent austerity period. Drawing on coalition oversight and blame avoidance literature, it argues that the unpopularity of austerity governments leads to extreme levels of dissent within the coalition. I operationalize this ‘intra-coalition opposition’ behavior using parliamentary questions, a legislative institution that has not been studied in the context of coalition politics. The analysis demonstrates that junior members in unpopular austerity governments increase their use of parliamentary questions to a degree that matches or even exceeds the formal opposition. However, intra-coalition dissent is conditional on the type of unpopular government policies, and on the ideology of coalition members. Specifically, using a new method of text analysis, I show that while the socialist Panhellenic Socialist Movement uses its parliamentary questions to avoid or minimize the blame associated with austerity policies, the conservative New Democracy does not, because left-leaning parties are electorally vulnerable to austerity measures. The results have implications for studying dissent in coalition politics in general, and the politics of austerity in particular.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-114
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Political Science Review
Issue number1
Early online date8 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • parties
  • blame avoidance
  • parliamentary questions
  • coalitions
  • opposition

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