Electoral competition and the oversight game: A transaction cost approach and the Norwegian experience

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Abstract

The central question addressed by this article is whether the absence of active competition changes the forces that shape the institutional landscape at the parliamentary level, and thereby the landscape itself. Based on a transaction cost approach, the study investigates whether the bolstering of parliamentary oversight procedures occurs in situations in which there is no credible alternative to the incumbent government, and whether opposition impotence contributes to the development of oversight institutions. The article argues that the strengthening of parliamentary oversight procedures is most likely to occur when there is a minority government but the opposition MPs are not in a position to form or envisage a credible alternative. An analysis of changes in oversight arrangements in Norway during 1993–1996 strongly supports this argument.

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