In this top group, governments tend to provide coherent, consistent communications, with disagreement expressed largely at the margins.
In Australia, Canada, France and the USA, presidential or prime ministerial offices wield tight control over the government “message,” with negative political consequences for officials offering public dissent. Media leaks serve as an alternative channel of criticism.
Governments in Iceland and Luxembourg have a deep culture of consensus, with ministers striving to avoid contradiction. The financial crisis has stressed this model, however. Sweden’s coalition governments have centralized communications, but some contradictions emerge on controversial issues.
In this group, coherent communication is a significant and generally attainable government goal, with occasional slippages associated with coalition disagreements or inexperience.
Finland, Ireland, Norway and Switzerland operate under collegial systems in which public dissent is frowned upon. Switzerland has improved after a period of internal coalition conflict, while Poland’s new government – the criterion’s top gainer relative to the SGI 2009 – has shown substantial improvements compared to its predecessor.
Chile’s communications coherence improves as each government gains experience. Mexico’s Calderon administration is much more consistent than the previous cabinet, while Portugal’s consistency dropped after the government lost its majority status. Minor disagreements are accepted as routine under New Zealand’s minority coalition governments.
The UK’s once-rigorous communications policy lost both coherence and effectiveness under Brown, while typically strong efforts to maintain consistency occasionally slip in Spain and Turkey.
In this group, efforts to coordinate communications between coalition partners or independent ministers suffer frequent breakdowns.
In Greece and Italy, ministers have considerable independence, often expressing their own contradictory opinions to order to further individual political goals. This improved under Italy’s Berlusconi for some time, but ultimately weakened again.
South Korean governments have sought to increase internal coordination, but contradictions remain frequent. Ministers from different parties in Austria do not coordinate frequently. Hungary suffered first from lack of coordination between coalition partners, and then from the lack of a centralized communications policy.
Japan’s new governments enhanced individual ministers’ communications authority, initially leading to some internal confusion.
In this group, disagreements between coalition partners are frequently expressed in public, undermining communications consistency.
In both the Czech Republic and Germany, members of successive coalitions publicly expressed disagreements over anti-crisis measures and fiscal policy, among other topics. Rancor between the partners was often evident.
Crisis-driven coalition disagreements were also common in Belgium, exacerbated by ministers’ tendency to communicate differently with different linguistic constituencies. Slovakia’s Fico did little to impose discipline on his coalition partners, leading to frequent contradictory statements.