Previous studies suggest, and common wisdom holds, that government participation is detrimental for new parties. This paper argues that the opposite is true. Drawing on a large-N analysis (111 parties in 16 countries) in combination with two case studies, it demonstrates that new parties generally benefit organisationally from supporting or entering a government coalition. Compared to established parties, new parties have the advantage that their leadership is more able to allocate effectively the spoils of office, and can change still malleable rudimentary party structures so as to respond to intra-organisational demands, as well as the functional demands of holding office. The authors conclude by setting their finding in wider perspective and elaborate on its implications for contemporary West European politics.