We include elections and cabinets in established democracies. More specifically, we include democratic national lower house elections and EP elections for all EU and most OECD members. For the latter, we exclude presidential systems. We record all elections and succeeding cabinets after 1945 or after full democratization according to Boix ea. (2013).

We also include elections and cabinets before 1945. We record information after 1900 or after the last democratic transition (Boix ea. 2013). As of today, these observations are experimental and may need revision.


Coding rules

We include parties winning more than 1.0% vote share in elections we cover

Minor additions

  • winning 2 seats in an election (eg. member of an electoral alliance)
  • electoral alliances with at least 2 election results
  • party groups that form in parliament
    • more than 5.0% seat share (eg. ITA FLI)
    • forming in two parliamentary terms (eg. FRA GDR)
    • members of cabinet (eg. SWE NP-AV)
    • providing minority support to a cabinet
  • independent candidates with more than 1.0% vote share (eg. IRL I-TJM)
  • less than 1.0% vote share
    • winning 1 seat in 2 elections
    • 2 election results as largest party no seats (first loser)
  • special categories: 'no-seat' and 'one-seat' (see election)

We avoid including minor parties or candidates that win a seat only in one election due to low threshold requirements.

Party change

New parties are coded in two tables: party change and party name change.

Mergers and party splits are only added as a new party if the (largest) predecessor party won less than 75% of the combined vote of all preceding parties in the last election. Otherwise the largest party is just renamed (cf. Döring 2016, 539).


  • Splits and re-mergers are coded for the original party (eg. JPN DP).
  • see also Barnea/Rahat (2011, 311): 'a new label and that no more than half of its top candidates (top of candidate list or safe districts) originate from a single former party'

Party names

Party names are sentence case if no national (language) convention requires title case.

  • eg. party names for Germany are title case (German and English)

Party names and delimiters · recoding to be finished

  • '–' different languages
  • '/' ('+') alliances
  • '|' generic names
  • [ space before and after delimiter ]

Year added to smaller party name if identical names exist in a country (eg. SVK SZ-92).

Party positions

We provide aggregated party positions in four major dimensions. These positions are time-invariant unweighted mean values of information from party expert surveys on a 0 to 10 scale. All expert surveys are linked with ids from the party table and original values are rescaled before calculating the mean.

Missing party positions for each dimension are imputed by mean values for the respective party family. We distinguish mean and imputed values by the number of decimal places. Mean values based on external datasets have five decimal places and imputed values have one decimal place only.

Variables and sources

  • left/right — Castles/Mair 1983 (left/right), Huber/Inglehart 1995 (left/right), Benoit/Laver 2006 – (left/right), CHES 2010 (lrgen 1999 and 2002 and 2006)
  • state/market — Benoit/Laver 2006 (taxes/spending), CHES 2010 (lrecon 1999 and 2002 and 2006)
  • liberty/authority — Benoit/Laver 2006 (social), CHES 2010 (galtan 1999 and 2002 and 2006)
  • EU anti/pro — Ray 1999 (pos96), Benoit/Laver 2006 (euauthority or eulargerstronger or eujoining), CHES 2010 (position 1999 and 2002 and 2006)

Party families

We classify parties into families by their position in an economic (state/market) and a cultural (liberty/authority) left/right dimension.

The classification leads to eight party family categories: Communist/Socialist, Green/Ecologist, Social democracy, Liberal, Christian democracy, Agrarian, Conservative, Right-wing.

Parties that can not be classified into the eight categories are coded as 'spec' in the party table with more details in the party family table (e.g. AUT Martin). These are mainly special issue parties without a clear left/right position.

We use one classification for the entire history of a party and do not record changes (e.g. FIN SP|P).

We add further information about party families in a separate table (see party family).


Coding rules

We include election results for

  1. all parties that won 1.0% vote share
  2. all parties that won 2 seats (esp. alliance members)


  • a party that won less than 1.0% vote share and 1 seat
    • several election results — included into the list of ParlGov parties
    • single election result — coded as a 'one-seat' party (eg. Poland)
  • a party that won less than 1.0% vote share but was the largest party that won no seat (first loser)
    • several election results — included into the list of ParlGov parties
    • single election result — coded as a 'no-seat' party (eg. Austria)
  • parliamentary party groups – see below
    • party group seat compositions different to election results
    • significant changes in the composition of party groups (more than 5.0% seat share)
  • electoral alliances
    • electoral alliances are coded by linking election results (variable 'alliance_id ') of alliance members to an alliance or the strongest party in an electoral alliance
      • each electoral alliance or alliance member coded as an individual party should include 2 elections, if feasible
      • alliances of parties that are part of a broader alliance are coded with a 'data_json' entry 'alliance_alliance_id' (eg. Italy 1996)
    • votes are coded at the level of electoral results for all alliance members
    • seats are coded for alliance members (parliamentary groups), if feasible
      • seats of an alliance that forms a parliamentary group with members running independently are coded for alliance members and with a 'parliament change' (eg. Germany CDU/CSU)
      • seats of alliance members are coded if no information about the parliamentary party group status is available
      • a 'data_json' entry 'seats_alliance' is added to the alliance to check data consistency
      • a 'one seat' party which is part of an electoral alliance is coded as an alliance member (eg. Hungary 2014)
  • 'others'
    • only number of seats coded

Seats changes parliament composition

  • changes (> 5%) in seats composition are recorded in 'parliament change'
    • esp. if changes affect cabinet majority support
  • seats composition of parliament at a particular date is recorded in 'parliament composition'
    • esp. if composition is relevant for cabinet formation (eg. JPN elections after 1996)
  • coding incomplete
    • significant changes only
    • lack of systematic and reliable sources

Earlier versions of ParlGov included only parties with seats in parliament and updating all countries to the 1.0% vote share rule was completed in December 2014.

Data sources

National elections

Main sources

  • official data source – national statistical office – see country notes
  • Nohlen — Elections: A Data Handbook – various volumes of elections around the world
  • Mackie/Rose (1945–1990) — only Western democracies
  • Essex elections data on Post-Communist Europe (1990–200x)
  • EJPR Political Data Yearbook (1990–today)
  • CEVIPOL Electoral results — Europe and Latin-America


  • Parline
  • Rokkan/Meyriat (1920–1965) — only Western democracies
  • Rose/Munro (1990–2001) — Post-Communist Europe

European parliament elections

Sorted by preference for coding selection

  1. official data source – national statistical office
  2. European Parliament (EP) election report (esp. 1979–1999) — based on official statistics
  3. EJPR yearbook (1990–today)


Cabinet definition

We record a new cabinet for these events (cf. Budge/Keman 1993: 10)

  1. any change of parties with cabinet membership
  2. any change of the prime minister
  3. any general election

All parties with ministers in cabinet are included (Indridason/Bowler 2014: 396)

  1. right to attend cabinet meetings
  2. right to cast vote before cabinet (if applicable)


  • three month rule
    • a continuation (caretaker) cabinet (subset of previous coalition, no new party) is coded once for any change lasting longer than three months
    • the three month rule refers to the exact day of the date, not the number of days
    • 'data_json' entry 'three_month_rule' (and 'cabinet_change')
    • see also examples section below
  • any meaningful investiture procedure defines a new cabinet
    • a PM appointment without a cabinet appointment (eg. Andreotti I, Pawlak I)
    • a constitutionally required new investiture during a parliamentary term (eg. LTU II+III, see LTU notes)
  • any meaningful resignation defines a new cabinet
  • cabinet parties not included
    • ministers without portfolio, interim or junior ministers
    • cabinet members without party affiliation (party family 'none') are only coded if the prime minister has no party affiliation
    • parties supporting a (minority) cabinet are included in table cabinet support — if information available
  • splits and mergers of cabinet parties
  • parliamentary groups and alliances
    • political parties are coded as parliamentary groups (eg. DEU CDU/CSU)
    • alliance members that join a parliamentary group are coded as support parties (eg. POL Szydlo 2015)
  • seats at cabinet formation date
  • country specific
    • Switzerland: changes in the identity of the President of the Swiss Confederation (Bundespräsident) do not define a new cabinet (cf. Kriesi/Trechsel 2008, 75-76)


  • three month constraint
    • POL Kaczynski (2006) — coded as one cabinet
      • SRP withdraws from cabinet on 22 September 2006 (party composition change) and re-enters on 16 October
      • SRP and LPR dismissal on 13 August 2007 (party composition change) — elections take place on 19 October 2007 (within three months)
    • BEL Leterme III (2010) — coded as one cabinet (three month constraint)
      • Previous coalition collapses on 26 April 2010 (party composition change) — new elections on 13 June. Pre-election caretaker cabinets lasts for less and post-election cabinet for more than three months.
    • further examples: AUT Gorbach II (1962), NLD Balkenende V (2010)

Damgaard (1994: 194-95) and Müller/Strom (2000: 12) provide a more comprehensive discussion of cabinet definitions.


Cabinets with a limited legislative mandate (cf. McDonnell/Valbruzzi 2014, 664)

  • non-partisan: cabinet members without partisan affiliation
  • provisional: appointed post-transition cabinet
  • technical: institutional reasons
  • continuation: remaining in office (see 'tree month rule' above)
    • resignation of PM or cabinet
    • dissolution of parliament
    • after election until new cabinet forms

Cabinet type

Government status (minority, minimum winning or surplus majority) is determined only by the seat share of government parties in parliament and not coded manually.

If there is an electoral alliance with separate seat shares but one of the parties is not a cabinet member, the government will be treated as a minority government (eg. UK 1951). Similarly, if any of the governing parties can be removed and the other governing parties still hold a majority in parliament, the cabinet is considered to be a surplus majority cabinet.

Cabinet termination

Experimental version only — coding incomplete

Coding rule: The same events that define a new government are used to define the termination date of a government. Cabinets may remain in office for a short period after the initial terminal event. The 'description' field should give a short description of events other than an election that led to the fall of a government and these events should be coded in 'data_json' entries.

Confidence votes

Experimental version only — coding incomplete

Confidence votes are added for all recent cabinets but are not included for all cabinets in ParlGov.

  • investiture (confidence) votes for new cabinets
  • confidence votes that lead to the termination of a cabinet
  • important (won) confidence votes.


  • constructive vote of no confidence
    • coded for outgoing cabinet (eg. DEU Schmitt III, ESP Rajoy IV)
    • note about vote of no confidence also added to description of new cabinet


We include all party-affiliated heads of state. Short-term acting presidents are not included. See table president.

Data sources

For new cabinets and revisions of observations, we derive information about cabinet termination from news sources, preferably from the news agencies Reuters, AFP or the main national news agency

For West European countries we double checked our initial observations with the data in Müller/Strom (2000). For Central- and Eastern European countries we compared our information to Müller-Rommel ea. (2008).

  • EJPR yearbook (1990–today) — politicaldatayearbook.com
  • European Representative Democracy Data Archive — erdda.se
  • Müller/Strom (2000) — governments in Western Europe (1945–2000)
  • Müller-Rommel ea. (2008) and Conrad/Golder (2010) — governments in Central/Eastern Europe (1990—2009)
  • Flora (1983) — inter-war governments
  • Wikipedia