Will personal votes matter for ministers? Electoral causes and consequences of cabinet committee membership

Martin (2016) found that “holding a ministerial portfolio confers an electoral advantage, and so, in contrast to their co-partisans, politicians who are ministers simultaneously maximize policy, office and votes.” In so, parties are not entirely unitary actors. To advance this point, I propose that cabinets should not be considered unitary either. Rather, cabinets are hierarchical, and cabinet committees mark a clear demarcation line of this hierarchy. In this paper, I propose and investigate two claims. First, personal votes increase ministers’ probability of being appointed to central cabinet committees. Second, cabinet committee members enjoy an electoral advantage over non-members. A dataset on Danish ministers‘ personal votes from 16 elections from 1977 to 2022 is studied to explore these claims. The results are mixed. Under some conditions will good personal electoral results infer an increased possibility of obtaining cabinet committee membership, whereas this is a disadvantage under other conditions. Similarly, cabinet committee membership will only infer an electoral advantage under some conditions, whereas this can be a disadvantage under other conditions. This has important implications for our understanding of the behavior of political parties as well as the causes and consequences of intra-party portfolio allocation.