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Prime Ministerial Power in 22 Countries, 1980-2000 (ICPSR 24341)

Principal Investigator(s): O'Malley, Eoin, Dublin City University


This study offers a measure of prime ministerial power to set government policy in 22 countries with established parliamentary democracies. The collection comprises variables relating to the power of prime ministers including an index of prime ministerial power, which consists of a quantitative score of the power of individually named prime ministers in their different terms based on an expert survey conducted in 2001-2003. The expert survey included questions in regard to the prime minister's degree of freedom in selecting cabinet ministers, moving or removing the cabinet ministers, and calling an election when desired. In addition, respondents were queried about the prime minister's ability to influence the cabinet agenda and the policy output of the current government, and the degree of government control over the parliament agenda. Additional variables in the data examined the political and institutional resources available to the prime ministers, of which the following topics were explored: the composition of the cabinet and prime minister's party, rate of government survival, strength of prime minister's party in the parliament, impact of the opposition party on policy, score of leadership influence, policy diversity in government, and government's ideological complexion.

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Study Description


O'Malley, Eoin. Prime Ministerial Power in 22 Countries, 1980-2000. ICPSR24341-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-07-08. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24341.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24341.v1

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences. Government of Ireland Scholarship
  • Trinity College Foundation Award (Ireland)
  • Training and Mobility in Research Scholarship

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    Cabinet, Cabinet appointments, Cabinet nominations, civil rights, constitutions, democracy, electoral systems, freedom, government, government leaders, government performance, leadership, parliamentary governments, policy, policy making, political appointments, political attitudes, political behavior, political elites, political influence, political interest, political leaders, political opposition, political parties, political power, political systems, prime ministers

Smallest Geographic Unit:    country

Geographic Coverage:    Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Global, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Time Period:   

  • 1980--2000

Date of Collection:   

  • 2001--2003

Unit of Observation:    Prime ministerial term of office

Universe:    (1) Prime ministerial terms in 22 established parliamentary democracies (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1999. (2) Experts from each of the 22 countries with an established parliamentary democracy, including political scientists and academic experts who study that country's executive or policy-making process and have published in English academic work.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data, event/transaction data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

These data for this collection were initially gathered by Dr. Eoin O'Malley for his PhD thesis entitled "Give Them Awkward Choices: A theoretical and empirical investigation into the operation of Prime ministerial influence on policy in 22 countries" from Trinity College, Dublin, 2005.

The data were sourced from editions of the European Journal of Political Research (EJPR) Political Data Yearbook, from various journal articles and books, and from an unpublished work. For further information about the data, please refer to the "Codebook for data on Prime ministerial power and its causes" section of the ICPSR codebook for a description of each variable and its source.

The "Expert Survey on Prime Ministers in Established Parliamentary Democracies" for the Netherlands has been provided in the ICPSR codebook. The variables pertaining to the questions asked in the expert survey are indicated in navy text in the "Codebook for data on Prime ministerial power and its causes".

Variables PARTYLAB and PMSPARTY have the same variable label; PMSPARTY does not appear in the "Codebook for data on Prime ministerial power and its causes."

Variable ID (unique identifier) has the following duplicate values: 16, 22, 41, 69, 115, 123, and 152.

PMID (identifier for individual PMs): Please note that one code may be associated with more than one prime minister, or one or more codes may have been assigned to one prime minister.


Sample:    (1) Prime ministerial terms of office for 22 parliamentary democracies. The data is time limited to those prime ministerial terms between January 1, 1980, and December 31, 1999, for most countries. For countries with more than 7 ministerial terms in the 20 year time span, only the 7 most recent prime ministerial terms are included. (2) Experts were selected for participation utilizing a number of criteria and sources, with the aim to contact the universe of political scientists in each of the 22 countries with an established parliamentary democracy who study that country's executive or policy-making process. Out of the 413 expert surveys that were mailed, 249 completed expert survey responses were obtained. For more detailed information about sampling please refer to: O'Malley, Eoin. 2007. The Power of Prime Ministers: Results of an Expert Survey. International Political Science Review, 28(1): 7-27.

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts, mail questionnaire

Data Source:

Budge, Ian, Hans-Dieter Klingemann, Andrea Volkens, Judith Bara, and Eric Tannenbaum. 2001. Mapping Political Preferences: Estimates for Parties, Electors and Governments, 1945-1998. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gallagher, Michael. 1991. Proportionality, disproportionality and electoral systems. Electoral Studies, 10:33-51.

Huber, John D. 1996. The Vote of Confidence in Parliamentary Democracies. American Political Science Review, 90 (2):269-282.

Huber, John D., and Ronald Inglehart. 1995. Expert interpretations of party space and party locations in 42 societies. Party Politics, 1:73-111.

Janda, Kenneth F. 1980. Political Parties: A cross-national survey. New York: The Free Press.

King, Anthony. 1994. Chief Executives in Western Europe. In Developing Democracy, edited by I. Budge and D. McKay. London: Sage.

Laver, Michael, and W. Ben Hunt. 1992. Policy and Party Competition. New York: Routledge.

Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in 36 Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press.

O'Malley, Eoin. 2005. Give Them Awkward Choices: The operation of prime ministerial power. Unpublished PhD, Department of Political Science, Trinity College, Dublin.

O'Malley, Eoin. 2006. Investigating the effects of directly electing a prime minister. Government and Opposition, 43: 137-62.

Siaroff, Alan. 2000. Comparative European Party Systems: an analysis of parliamentary elections since 1945. New York: Garland.

Woldendorp, Jaap, Hans Keman, and Ian Budge. 1993. Political data 1945-1990 - Party Government in 20 Democracies. European Journal of Political Research, 24:1-119.

Woldendorp, Jaap, Hans Keman, and Ian Budge. 1998. Party Government in 20 Democracies - an update 1990-1995. European Journal of Political Research, 33:125-164.

Response Rates:    63 percent

Presence of Common Scales:    Lijphart's index, Gallagher's index

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2010-07-08

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