Ideologues, partisans and loyalists: cabinet ministers and social welfare reform in parliamentary democracies

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Under what conditions can cabinet ministers affect the government’s policy agenda? Existing literature provides conflicting answers to this question. In this article, I show that some politicians are more likely than others to influence policy. Specifically, I consider three types of ministers: loyalists, who are loyal to their party leader and prioritize office over policy; partisans, who are party heavyweights and aspiring leaders; and ideologues, who have fixed policy ideas and are unwilling to compromise over office perks. I argue that ideologues and partisans will affect policy more than loyalists do. Using a novel data set on ministerial backgrounds, and examining the area of social welfare policy in 18 countries, I find support for my theoretical expectations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1086
Number of pages36
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • cabinets
  • social welfare programs
  • political economy

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