Existing studies of government duration in parliamentary democracies typically measure the length of a government's tenure in office without accounting for delays in the government formation process. By assuming that a cabinet leaves office on the day prior to the new cabinet taking office, these measures ignore periods during which a government has lost its mandate but is still legally in power as a caretaker government. A consequence is that governments that are actually stable and governments that only appear stable because replacement governments take a long time to form are observationally equivalent. This suggests that some existing studies of government stability are potentially flawed. It also means that a number of interesting research questions cannot be answered with existing data. Many of these questions address the various consequences of caretaker governments. The answers to these questions are relevant for scholars interested in representation and accountability. This article presents a new dataset collected on government duration in eleven Central Eastern European democracies from 1990 to 2008 that specifically takes account of caretaker periods and delays in the government formation process. These data will provide scholars with more flexibility to choose the measure that best reflects their underlying conception of government stability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science