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Centre for Political Ethnography

Rod Rhodes and his colleagues have published their new book

Published: 9 November 2021

Rod Rhodes and his colleagues have published their new book on Comparing Cabinets: the dilemmas of collective government with Oxford University Press.

Why is government so resilient? 

The book is organized around the dilemmas that cabinet governments must solve:


  •  How to develop the formal rules and practices that can bring predictability and consistency to decision making;
  •  How to balance good policy with good politics;
  •  How to ensure cohesion between the factions and parties that constitute the cabinet while advancing their self-interest;
  •  How leaders can balance persuasion and command; and
  •  How to maintain support through accountability at the same time as being able to make unpopular decisions.


All these dilemmas are continuing challenges to cabinet government, never solvable, and constantly reappearing in different forms. Comparing distinct parliamentary systems of the United Kingdom, Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia reveals how traditions, beliefs, and practices shape the answers. There is no single definition of cabinet government, but rather arenas and shared practices that provide some cohesion. Such a comparative approach allows insights into the process of cabinet government that cannot be achieved in the study of any single political system, and an understanding of the pressures on each system by appreciating the options that are elsewhere accepted as common beliefs.

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