To what extent does the organization of government provide incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government’s program?

The organization of government successfully provides strong incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
Strong party discipline and adherence to the Westminster doctrine of cabinet collective responsibility ensure that ministers have strong incentives to implement the government’s program, rather than follow their own self-interest. Australian prime ministers are very dependent on their party caucuses and cannot govern against the majority in the caucus. Labor prime ministers in particular are limited in their choice of ministers, and typically have to accept the nominations of the various party factions. The recent successful challenge demonstrated that Liberal prime ministers are also increasingly dependent on their caucuses.
Pat Weller, Prime ministers, in: Brian Galligan; Winsome Roberts, The Oxford Companion to Australian Politics, Sydney: Oxford University Press 2007, S. 460-463.
In the Canadian system, the prime minister, in consultation with political staff, forms the cabinet and appoints his or her ministers, who serve on a discretionary basis. Any cabinet minister who is not perceived by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to be a team player, or is seen as a political liability, will have a short career. Cabinet ministers are evaluated and hence promoted and demoted on the basis of their ability to deliver on the government’s agenda. The prime minister and his office (PMO) have an important role in appointing deputy ministers and chiefs of staff. Deputy ministers are appointed by the prime minister on the advice of the clerk of the Privy Council Office. Deputy ministers are promoted (or less often demoted) for a variety of reasons, including the attempt to match their talents to the requirements of the department, efforts to establish a gender and linguistic balance, and so on.
South Korea
Ministers in South Korea do not have their own political base, and thus depend almost solely on the support of the president. The president has the authority to appoint and dismiss ministers, and frequently reshuffles the cabinet. The average tenure of a minister has continuously declined over the past two decades. Under the Lee Myung-bak administration, the average period of service was about one year. This high degree of turnover limits ministers’ independence, as they are unable to develop their own voice to pursue their own or institutional policy ideas.

The role of National Assembly confirmation hearings for ministerial candidates should not be underestimated. As of the time of writing, seven of Moon Jae-in’s ministerial candidates had failed to move past these hearings, in part due to strong media scrutiny.
In Sweden, ministers and departments do not implement policy. The task is handled by the executive agencies. A major concern in Sweden is the degree to which ministers can, and should, steer the agencies. Swedish agencies are highly autonomous, but departments can formally steer them by appointing the Director General of the agency, deciding on the regulatory and institutional framework of the agency, and allocating financial resources to specific tasks and programs.

In Sweden, as in many other countries, the relationship between departments and agencies, and the willingness of the latter to implement policies defined by the former, can hinder or enable implementation. In Sweden, the relationship between departments and agencies is an institutional relation, not a personal relation between a minister and the director of an agency. Thus, to the extent that it is meaningful to talk about incentives, they must be organizational incentives. Furthermore, implementing policy is a core role for the agencies, so incentives are hardly necessary.
Premfors, R. and G. Sundström (2007), Regeringskansliet (Malmö: Liber).

Jacobsson, B., J. Pierre and G. Sundström (2015), Governing the Embedded State: The Organizational Dimension of Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
The president has a high level of control over appointments such as agency and department heads. They serve at the president’s discretion and need the support of the White House for their success, both in terms of agency missions and individual careers. Conflicts between the department heads and the White House occasionally emerge, but they are usually limited to a speech or remark that conflicts with presidential policy. As recent presidents have upgraded their ability to monitor agency activities and to draw major issues into the White House, conflicts between the agencies and the White House have largely disappeared.
The president annually evaluates his or her ministers’ policy performance. In a commission consisting of the president’s advisory ministry (Secretaría General de la Presidencia, Segpres) and budgetary units of the government, ministers have to present their sectoral priorities, and if necessary, arrangements and modifications are made to ensure alignment with the government program.
Denmark has parliamentary rule. The government can be forced to retire any time if in the minority in parliament. The prime minister is the leader of the government, and he or she does not allow ministers to pursue interests that are not compatible with the declared goals of the government. Close scrutiny by parliament, including by parliamentary committees and an attentive press, seldom lets rogue ministers behave this way for long. The prime minister can both fire and promote ministers, so there are incentives to do what the prime minister expects. Party members can of course revolt against a prime minister, but this happens rarely in Denmark. There is a high degree of party discipline.
Carsten Henrichsen, Offentlig Forvaltning. 2. ed. Copenhagen: Forlaget Thomson, 2006.
Estonia typically has coalition governments; reaching an agreement on priorities and goals of the future government is the core issue of the cabinet-formation process. After a coalition cabinet is sworn in, it acts in accordance with the government program and rules of procedure signed by all coalition partners. The process of program implementation is coordinated by the coalition committee, comprised of a representative of each coalition partner. Compared to some previous governments, the sitting coalition places less emphasis on the coalition committee, instead discussing most issues openly at cabinet meetings. This can be regarded as evidence of general concord within the government, which facilitates implementation of the government program.
Compliance by ministers, when compared internationally, is good, as a minister can be dismissed at any time and without explanation. In the French majority system and in the absence of real coalition governments, the ministers, who are nominated by the president, are largely loyal to him. Together with the effective hierarchical steering of governmental action, ministers have strong incentives to implement the government’s program, following guidelines set up by the president and prime minister. This statement remains true but is highly dependent on the leadership capacities of the president and prime minister. Unlike his predecessor, Macron has made clear that strict compliance is expected from ministers, and there is no doubt that his leadership and policy choices will be supported by ministers who, for most, are not professional politicians.
Under the third Orbán government, Ministerial compliance has diminished. The replacements for the purged Simicska followers have been loyal, but incompetent, so that their actions have often been chaotic. The increasing disorder has led to soft resistance by János Lázár, the head of the PMO, who has sometimes criticized the official line indirectly but publicly. The creation of two new cabinet committees – an economic cabinet with Mihály Varga and a strategic cabinet with János Lázár – in the summer of 2016 aimed at demonstrating the power of the prime minister, but also at pushing for more policy compliance of ministers and senior officials. Another cabinet committee, on family policy, has been announced.
Ministers usually follow party lines, but individual ministers have considerable authority to make independent decisions. However, non-collective decisions are rare.

Under the 2009-2013 cabinet, dissent between ministers had little to do with specific ministerial actions. For example, when the parliament voted in 2009 on Iceland’s application for EU membership, one government minister, Jón Bjarnason from the Left-Green Movement, voted against the resolution. Bjarnason repeatedly expressed his opposition to Iceland’s accession to the European Union throughout his tenure. Subsequent cabinets have experienced no such ministerial discord – except the aforementioned episode of former prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson in early April 2016 as the Panama Papers scandal broke.
Organizational devices that encourage ministerial compliance include: a public statement of policy intent, a government declaration signed by each minister, a coalition agreement outlining the terms of cooperation between the governing parties and an informal weekly coalition-council meeting. Additionally, the government office monitors compliance with cabinet decisions, while the PKC monitors implementation of the government declaration. Both reporting streams enable the prime minister to fully monitor individual ministers’ progress in achieving the government’s program. Nevertheless, disagreements between ministers regularly become public and can be divisive. Most recently, ministers have disagreed over the EU migrant relocation scheme and tax system reform.
New Zealand
There is a strong tradition of collective responsibility of the cabinet. Ministers are allowed to disagree over policy initiatives, even in public, but once a decision has been made in cabinet they have to follow the collective will. The Cabinet Manual 2008 is very explicit about this. The prime minister has the power to appoint and dismiss ministers (formally it is the governor-general who does this on the advice of the prime minister). In reality, however, whereas the National Party’s cabinet is chosen by the prime minister, Labour’s is subject to an election by all of its members of parliament, with the prime minister’s direct power being largely limited to the ranking of ministers and allocation of portfolios. Naturally, in coalition governments or minority governments with support agreements with other parties, the prime minister’s power over the personnel of another party is restricted. Collective responsibility within a formal coalition arrangement is strengthened by an extensive list of coalition management instruments based on a comprehensive coalition agreement with regard to the legislative agenda but also procedures to ensure coalition discipline. On the other hand, there are procedures for dealing with a minority government. The most recent National minority government built on the experience of earlier minority governments on how to ensure ministerial compliance under a confidence and supply mandate. In its Cabinet Office Circular CO (15) 1 “National-led Administration: Consultation and Operating Arrangements,” the government at the time of writing specified the nature of its agreements with support parties that receive ministerial appointments outside of cabinet. While such ministers may disagree with government policy if it lies outside their ministerial responsibility, they are bound by collective responsibility on issues within their portfolio.
Cabinet Office Circular CO (15) 1 (Wellington: Cabinet Office 2015).
There is a strong tradition of cabinet government in Norway. The cabinet meets several times a week, and government decisions formally need to be made in cabinet. The convention of close ministerial cooperation increases ministers’ identification with the government’s program and makes the government work as a team. As long as divisions between coalition partners are not strong, this system guarantees relatively strong cabinet cohesion, as has been the experience in recent years.
The organization of government provides some incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
One must distinguish de jure powers from the government’s de facto powers to provide incentives to each minister. De jure, the prime minister has little power to exclude ministers from the government. The main architects of government positions are the party presidents who, at the government-formation stage, negotiate for control of the various portfolios and then nominate their people. Every minister’s primary incentive is thus to push his or her own party’s views, rather than the government’s potential view.

That said, this hierarchical structure is actually able to impose strong discipline on each minister when the incentives of party presidents are sufficiently aligned with those of the government.
A number of mechanisms are in place that serve to bind ministers to the government’s program. Government programs result from negotiations between the political parties forming the government; in consequence, the coalition partners and ministries closely monitor implementation. Cabinet agenda issues are generally prepared, discussed and coordinated in cabinet committees as well as in informal groups and meetings. On the whole, ministers are closely watched, and are expected to be integral parts of cooperative units. They would no doubt find it difficult as well as unrewarding to pursue narrow self-interests. Nevertheless, individual figures’ profile-raising attempts have been discernible in the present Sipilä cabinet, largely within the Finns Party.
In principle, line ministers are responsible for policies that fall under their jurisdiction. Therefore, individual ministers have some leeway to pursue their own or their party’s interests. This leeway is substantial in international comparison. Ministers sometimes pursue interests that therefore clash with the chancellor or coalition agreements. In the case of the last government, the coalition agreement bore considerable political weight and proved effective in guiding ministry activities. In terms of budgetary matters, Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble was particularly powerful and able – when he has the chancellor’s support – to reject financial requests by other ministries.

The coalition agreements provided for clear rules when a coalition committee will meet and who will join the meetings. As in previous coalitions, it consisted of the chancellor and the vice-chancellor, the leaders of parliamentary groups and party leaders (if they were not already covered by the persons mentioned above). During the period under review, the coalition committee informally became the most important institution in resolving political disagreements within the government.
The current minority-led government represents a range of different agendas and priorities. The allocation of ministries between them has a significant influence on the overall coherence of government policy.

Individual ministries are to a significant degree independent fiefdoms that can be used by individual ministers to pursue their self-interest – including boosting their chances of reelection – rather than any comprehensive government objective. The system requires even senior ministers to spend considerable time and energy in local constituency work, because few are sufficiently distanced from the risk of losing their seat at the next election. One newspaper recently estimated (informally) that ministers spend only about 10% of their time on national issues.

The two ministries with overarching responsibility for coordinating this program are the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Finance.

Ministers are not involved in the appointment or promotion of civil servants; at the higher levels of the civil service, appointment is now in the hands of the independent Top Level Appointments Commission. However, a 2014 conflict over the roles of the minister for justice and the commissioner of the Garda Síochána (the police force) led to the resignation of both men, and eventually the departure of the secretary-general of the Department of Justice as well.

Ministers select their own advisers and consultants and these exercise considerable influence. For the most part, however, individual ministers do implement government policy. But over time there is a tendency for some to pursue increasingly idiosyncratic goals. The ultimate sanction can be exercised by the taoiseach, as occurred in the major cabinet reshuffle of July 2014, which was designed to increase the government’s cohesiveness.
The current prime minister, Gentiloni, has weaker instruments to ensure ministers fulfill the government program compared to the previous prime minister, Renzi, who was the leader of the dominant government coalition party. However, given the more modest ambitions of the current cabinet, whose main purpose is to reach the end of the parliamentary term without disaster and prepare for the forthcoming elections, the prime minister has proven more able to steer the government than was initially expected. Gentiloni has been aided by ministers from other parties, because of the weakness of their parties and their need to avoid immediate elections, would prefer not to rock the boat.
Whatever problems there may be with the Mexican system, it does deal effectively with the so-called agency problem, except during the end of the presidential term, when the lame duck phenomenon occurs. Insofar, the agency problem has increased in 2017 and will further be a challenge during the final month of the current presidency. In contrast, at least during the first two-thirds of a presidential administration, cabinet secretaries mostly have a strong incentive to avoid incurring presidential displeasure. This is less true at the very end of the presidential term, when the cabinet becomes more politicized and some political figures may jump ship to serve the new administration. Usually the government acts as a lame duck during its last months in office, and not much is expected of it.
Since the cabinet consists of a group of people who were more or less hand-picked by PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, the need for using specific organizational devices for exerting pressure on ministers to stay in line with the government’s program has been limited. Despite some internal debates and power struggles, ministers have largely been committed to implementing the government’s program, one bullet point after another.
All prime ministers since the restoration of democracy have presided over single-party governments – Spain being the only EU country aside from Malta in which there has not been any experience with coalitions at the central-government level. Since the 2016 elections, no coalitions have been formed; rather, all ministries are chaired by PP party members or persons close to the party. Thus, Mariano Rajoy is free to reorganize government structures and dismiss ministers he does not consider able or willing to implement the government’s program. Due to this, Rajoy has the capacity to impose his views on the Council of Ministers, in addition to chair party meetings.

The constitution (which stipulates that parliamentary confidence rests personally with the prime minister and his comprehensive government program), the Spanish party system (featuring prime ministers that have up to this point also been the strong leaders of very disciplined parties), and the organization of the executive thus provide strong incentives for all ministers to implement the overall government program rather than seeking the sectoral interests of their individual departments. However, the fact that the government’s hierarchical organizational devices provide these potentially strong incentives does not necessarily ensure that ministers always subordinate their sectoral self-interest to the general interests of the government. They actually enjoy some degree of political autonomy, in some cases as important mid-level or regional leaders of the governing party.
Government in Switzerland is not (primarily) party-driven. Ministers are expected to work together as a collegium, and to abstain from any politics or policies that benefit their party or themselves as individual politicians. In general, this worked quite well so long as all members of government felt bound by the rules of collegiality. In recent years, due to growing political polarization and an attack on consociational politics by the right-populist party, there have been some deviations from this course. However, even in periods of polarized politics, the Swiss government and its policy implementation is much less driven by the interests of individual politicians or parties than is typically the case for parliamentary governments. In the current review period, ministerial compliance and cooperation were much more pronounced than between 2003 and 2007.
In the Swiss federal system, implementation is first the task of the cantons and even the municipalities. Implementation therefore must be seen as a multilevel process. Implementation varies among the cantons, and is determined by political party government composition, policy pressures and bureaucratic preferences at the cantonal level (Sager and Thomann 2016).
SAGER, Fritz, and Eva THOMANN (2016). “A Multiple Streams Approach to Member State Implementation Re-search: Politics, Problem Construction and Policy Paths in Swiss Asylum Policy,” Journal of Public Policy 37 (3): 287–314.
The prime minister has traditionally had more or less absolute power to appoint politicians to government positions. She can thus use this power of patronage to earn the loyalty of backbench MPs and to ensure that ministers stick to the government agenda. Despite occasional leaks, the collective responsibility of cabinet is a well-entrenched doctrine and standards of behavior are recorded in the Ministerial Code. The prime minister’s power is partly dependent on the incumbent’s political strength and calculations by their party as to their future electoral success (which is directly linked to their own job security). Party whips also play a key role in passing legislation and thus in supporting the government, and – although Conservative MPs elected since 2010 are sometimes considered to be more prone to rebellion – any MPs with strong political ambitions have to be wary of being branded as mavericks. However, this label has become significantly less stigmatizing over the past years. In this spirit, prominent cabinet members have recently shown open insubordination – backed by substantial factions within the Conservative Party – to pursue their own political agenda and aims. This continues to burden the May government’s performance. Yet, despite the absence of a majority government for all but two years since 2009, the government is generally able to implement its programs, although Brexit, very evidently, will test this to the limit.
The prime minister does not have significant legal powers vis-à-vis his ministerial colleagues. The 1991 constitution defines the Council of Ministers as a collective body, with the prime minister being only “an equal among equals.” The position of the prime minister thus strongly depends on his or her informal political authority. When the prime minister is a party leader and features a relatively strong personality, as in the case of the Borissov governments, the informal influence is significant. The de facto accountability of ministers to the prime minister was most recently demonstrated in October 2017 by the resignation of the minister of health, Nikolay Petrov, following the prime minister’s demand. Thus, the organization of government provides incentives to ensure that ministers implement the government program only to the extent that the program is a priority for the prime minister. When there is a coalition government, as in the case of the third Borissov cabinet, it is unclear to what extent the prime minister’s informal power to incentivize line ministers appointed by coalition partners is sufficient to ensure the implementation of the government program.
Influences from the OECD and global best practice methods have altered Israel’s governmental organization in recent years. Values of transparency, planning, comparability and supervision by a designated PMO unit have been introduced, arguably improving implementation of the overall government program by increasing ministerial accountability vis-a-vis the government and the public. These new actions accompany more traditional compliance mechanisms such as weekly cabinet sessions and interministerial roundtable events.

Structural elements have worked against this trend by imposing a greater degree of centralization. The government’s budget process essentially undermines the authority of individual ministers by creating a negative incentive for cooperation and forcing ministers into a more combative stance against each other. The Arrangements Law (an omnibus law which includes bills and amendments specifically aimed at restricting expenditure and achieve economic goals) is another bold expression of the additional power given to the budgeting department of the Ministry of Finance. This law is often used to cancel or negate reforms or legislation already passed by other ministries, thus undermining their commitment to the government’s program.
Blander, Dana, “Hok Ha-Hesderim: Necessary evil or necessarily evil?,” IDI website 14.1.2007 (Hebrew) Salonim, Ori, “Measuring performance in the public service,” The eleventh annual Hertzliya conference official publication (Hebrew)

“Book of working plans 2014,” PMO website (March 2014) (Hebrew
Japan’s political framework formally provides the prime minister with powerful tools to control ministers. Prime ministers can appoint and fire ministers at will. Moreover, prime ministers can effectively veto specific sectoral policies. In practice, however, prime ministerial options have been more limited, as most have lacked full control over their own parties or over the powerful and entrenched bureaucracy.

Recent governments, including the current Abe government, have sought to centralize policymaking within the core executive. Some measures have been institutional, such as giving new weight to the Cabinet Secretariat attached to the Cabinet Office and to the Council for Economic and Fiscal Policy, a cabinet committee in which the prime minister has a stronger voice. Other measures include a stronger role in top-level personnel decisions, aided by the formal introduction of the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs in 2014. Such institutional measures have proved quite successful.
The government’s organization provides ministers with various incentives to implement the government’s agenda. The primary organizational instruments include coalition agreements, government programs, multiannual government priorities, identified priority actions and monitoring processes, cabinet meetings and deliberations, and the assignment of ministerial responsibility for policy areas. Since prime-ministerial powers within the executive are limited by constitutional provisions and the fragmentation of coalition governments, officeholders need to seek support from other cabinet ministers (including ministers of finance, who tend to share the prime minister’s party affiliation), from parliamentary groups, and from the president (who has a veto power over draft laws) as they seek to implement the major objectives of the government program. In addition, as they implement governmental policy, line ministries tend to focus on the sectoral-policy aims falling under their responsibility at the expense of related horizontal-policy aims.
The Luxembourg electoral system combines proportional representation of candidate lists and a type of majority system that allows a voter to pick individual candidates by giving them preferential votes on more than one list.

Consequently, the voters, and not the party, decide on the composition of parliament and even of the government, since those candidates with the best results usually become ministers. This system encourages politicians to pursue personal initiatives, but as they generally address small lobbies, such projects do not typically conflict with the government’s agenda.

“Go-it-alone” actions are not uncommon because ministers and candidates want to raise their profile to benefit precisely from these personal votes that ultimately make the difference. Especially in pre-electoral periods, this kind of deviant behavior is quite frequent. Ministers are usually allowed to pursue their pet topics, provided they manage to convince their colleagues in government and the prime minister.
“Wahlsystem.” Le portail officiel du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

Fehlen, Fernand. “Für eine Wahlrechtsreform.”, Nov. 2013, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.

“Wahlsystem und politische Kultur.”, Sept. 2013, Accessed 21 Feb. 2017.
The organization of relations in the parliamentary and cabinet systems ensure that ministers have incentives to implement the government’s program. While ministers in the PS government are generally aligned with the government program, the fact that the government has to depend on three other parties with very different orientations to pass legislation does create difficulties with regard to ministerial compliance.
Ministerial compliance in the third Fico government has been complicated by the fact that it rests on an “unnatural” coalition that includes parties as diverse as the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the mostly Hungarian minority based party Most-Híd (Bridge). While the government manifesto is fragmented, ministerial compliance follows party-ministry lines. Moreover, the ministers nominated by the SNS are not party members and have little experience as civil servants, which means they are less loyal than would normally be the case.
Dutch ministers’ hands are tied by party discipline; government/coalition agreements (which they have to sign in person during an inaugural meeting of the new Council of Ministers); ministerial responsibility to the States General; and the dense consultation and negotiation processes taking place within their own departments other departments in the interdepartmental administrative “front gates” and ministerial committees. Ministers have strong incentives to represent their ministerial interests, which do not necessarily directly reflect government coalition policy. The hasty coalition agreement of the present Rutte II Council of Ministers – which was more of a mutual exchange of incompatible policy preferences than a well-considered compromise – and its relatively weak parliamentary support, have led to party-political differences frequently being voiced in the media. When the Rutte II cabinet reached out to three smaller political parties not supporting the government agreement, interministerial commitment and coordination visibly increased.
R.B. Andeweg & G.A. Irwin (2014), Governance and Politics of The Netherlands. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 140-163
Ministers are primarily concerned with the agendas of their parties, rather than with that of the government as such. Ministers are selected by the head of each party – typically the chancellor and vice-chancellor. Their first loyalty is thus to party rather than to government. For this reason, ministers have incentives to implement the government’s program only as long as this is identified with the program of his or her party. Nonetheless, there are a number of informal mechanisms that help commit individual ministers to the government program. For example, the parties in the current government have worked out a lengthy coalition agreement. The two partners have therefore reached compromises on the most important policy issues, and agreed on procedures for dealing with conflicts should they arise during the legislative period. For example, the governing parties have agreed not to vote against one another in important parliamentary votes, and have agreed not to support referendums against government policy. But this may change under the auspices of the new coalition.
Czech Rep.
Governments have tried to ensure ministerial compliance largely through the use of well-defined government programs and coalition agreements. Differences between individual ministers and the government take the form of disagreements between parties and are played out by threats of resignation. Under the Sobotka government, ministers from all coalition partners were removed for different reasons by various coalition partners. Following the October 2016 elections, in which the Czech Social Democratic Party lost significant power in the regional governments to its junior coalition partner ANO, Prime Minister Sobotka orchestrated a substantial overhaul of social democratic ministers. While the prime minister has the formal power to remove ministers from other coalition parties, the coalition agreement stipulated that this is only possible in agreement with the respective coalition partners. And when in November 2016, Prime Minister Sobotka called on the junior coalition partners to also replace ministers, no other party did so. In May 2017, Andrej Babiš was replaced by Ivan Pilny as minister of finance. However, in 2017 the prime minister’s position continued to weaken, resulting in Sobotka’s resignation from the position of party chairperson and party leader in the 2017 election campaign.
In the period under review, foreign assistance funds continued to be channeled to Greece under strict conditionalities. Incentives for ministers to implement policies were probably the negative sanctions, such as their replacement by Prime Minister Tsipras, which they would face if they further burdened the already problematic fiscal situation of the Greek state. Thus, ministers had more incentives, in fact, externally imposed constraints, to implement the government’s plans directly linked to Greece’s economic recovery. In non-economic policy sectors, however, the situation was different, as Greek policies in such sectors were not as closely monitored by the country’s lenders. Certain ministers, such as the minister of culture or the minister of education, had no incentive to follow the abrupt shift toward austerity which Syriza had made in the summer of 2015, after failing on its pre-electoral promise to undo austerity. Such ministers pursued Syriza’s pre-electoral radical left-wing program and in some instances tried various untested ideas or plans of their own, such as proposing radical changes to university entrance examinations and then completely dropping this education policy shift.
The cabinet is the most important organizational device at the disposal of the government providing incentives to ensure ministers implement the government’s program. Second to this are the weekly meetings of Permanent Secretaries. Meanwhile, the powers of the Prime Minister’s Office have increasingly been used to drive policy implementation. The ministerial secretariat is generally responsible for overseeing the implementation of a program. However, this function has become more centralized; the government can now show how much of its program has been implemented. In addition, the Management Efficiency Unit in the PMO provides ministries with advice and capacity-building tools. Informal coalitions, such as those between civil society groups or businesses and individual ministries, can drive implementation in certain policy areas, such as the extension of LGBT rights. The drive to introduce simplification measures across ministries facilitates decentralization (e.g., in recruitment accords), granting ministries greater independence as well as additional incentive to successfully implement policies. The government has touted the idea of appointing ministers who are not members of parliament in order to improve efficiency in program implementation; however, this would require a constitutional amendment.
PM wants powers to appoint ministers who are not MPs Times of Malta 15/02/16
As head of a coalition government, Prime Minister Cerar primarily relied on frequent coalition meetings of narrow (including only the presidents of coalition parties) or broader composition (including ministers and members of parliament as well) in order to ensure the implementation of the government’s program. In the Cerar government’s first two years in office, seven ministers resigned or were removed from office. In the period under review, no changes in the leadership of ministries occurred. In May 2017, Minister of Finance Mateja Vraničar Erman offered her resignation because of controversies of the privatization of Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB), but her resignation was not accepted by the prime minister.
Haček, M., S. Kukovič, M. Brezovšek (2017): Slovenian Politics and the State. Lanham, New York, London, Boulder: Lexington Books.
The entrenched single-party government, with strong party leadership and high demand for ministerial positions among party members, provides strong incentives for the promotion of the government program. Therefore, it is difficult even for those ministers who are professionals in their fields to come independently to the forefront. The charisma and standing of the party leader and the tendency of political parties to leave personnel decisions to the party leader prevent ministers from pursuing their own interests during their time in office.

The AKP government under former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made it even more difficult for ministers to follow their own agendas, a situation which has continued under Erdogan’s successors since 2014. A number of key ministries during the review period were under the leadership of ministers with substantial professional expertise, but these figures had little support from the party apparatus, leaving them dependent on the prime minister. This ensures that the strong leadership of the prime minister and party leader, rather than other incentives, drives ministers to implement the governmental program. After Erdoğan was elected to the presidency, additional loyalist ministers were appointed to the cabinet. Erdoğan rejected claims that the new prime minister would merely do his bidding; however, he continues to maintain his grip on the government, stressing his intention to be an active president, and interfering in virtually every policy field and ministerial portfolio.
Erdoğan also intervenes in the nomination of deputies, appointment of higher civil servants and the organization of electoral campaigns by taking part actively in these events. In other words, it is argued that the office of the president, now entrusted with increasing powers, has replaced those otherwise established by the constitution. Thus, the current constellation raises the question whether the effectiveness of the executive in general and the government in particular will be diminished by the existence of several centers of power and suggests that the democratic separation of powers as a whole are eroding.

Following the constitutional referendum of April 2017, Erdoğan was immediately re-elected chair of the AKP, legalizing a previously de facto status. This contradicted the principle that Turkey’s head of state should be impartial and not a member of a political party. Second, Erdoğan immediately started to exercise constitutional powers that were intended to take effect after 2019 presidential elections. In this transition period, the role of the prime minister and Council of Ministers as the sole authority for governmental actions has been reduced to a symbolic power vis-a-vis Erdoğan’s full authority as the president and chair of the ruling party. Ministers can only use their constitutional powers with the approval of the president. Sometimes the president gives direct orders to ministers for the sake of his own popularity and legitimacy.
Erdoğan says new PM will not be puppet, Al Jazeera, 27 August 2014,ğan-says-new-pm-will-not-be-puppet-2014827133851415267.html (accessed 5 November 2014)
“Constitutional amendments in Turkey: Predictions and implications,” 28 February 2017, (accessed 1 November 2017)
“Stadiums in Turkey to no longer be called ‘arena,’ Erdoğan instructs minister,” Hürriyet Daily News, 26 May 2017, (accessed 1 November 2017)
Daniel Dombey, Turkish president tightens grip on state, The Financial Times, 15 April 2015, (accessed 27 October 2015)
The organization of government provides weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
As the strong conflicts within the governing coalition (between HDZ and MOST) and the weak policy record of the Plenković government show, the organization of government of the first Plenković government provided only weak incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program. The situation has not changed significantly under the second Plenković government.
Ministers in Romania have traditionally held significant leeway in terms of deciding policy details within their departments, and the short-lived prime ministers Grindeanu and Tudose, both dependent on the backing by PSD chair Dragnea have been too weak to bring ministers in line. The huge turnover of ministers under both governments thus does not testify to their strength.
Under the presidential system, appointments and dismissals are the president’s prerogative and implementation of state policies rests with a minister’s ambition to succeed or desire to stay in office. Thus, the key factor is each officeholder’s personality and dedication. The initiation of reforms and promotion of strategic planning may provide benchmarks for an evaluation based on goal achievement, a motivating factor for quality work.
The organization of government does not provide any incentives for ministers to implement the government’s program.
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