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Politics: Comparative Government Legislatures revision: Tutorial and Exam Notes Overview
- Role: popular, representative and accountable government
- What shapes their role?
- Vary in composition, structure and size
- Different relationships with executives and bureaucracies
- Diverse ways of organizing their business internally o Political parties o Committees o Speakers
- => shapes decision making
- Effects: character and quality of democracy
- What criteria should we use to evaluate the work and decisions of legislatures?
- NB procedure vs substance of legislative decision-making Methodological points
- Lack of large N analysis
- Inductive approach - case studies.
- Deductive approach - social choice theory and formal institutional modeling.
- Interaction: other determinants of executive and legislative stability and effectiveness o Party system and party politics o Contingent public support for individual leaders (difficult to model) o Long term support for institutions o Long term support for political class o Robustness and effectiveness of the state's administrative apparatus
- Effectiveness of legislatures: o Measurements: number of bills; success rate of legislative vs govt bills; number of amendments o But, all problematic - measurement errors; autolimation; other less tangible aspects - quality of legislation o Important dependent variables; decisiveness; specialisation; representation; expertise Mezey's typology (1979):
- Vulnerable legislatures
- Marginal legislatures
- Active legislatures
- Reactive legislatures
- Minimal legislatures Function of legislatures:
- De jure/de facto
- Depends on presidential/parliamentary ie shaped by other institutional factors
- Parliamentary system: most important role is making and breaking of governments (and threat)
- Holding government to account
- Deliberation Post-communist legislatures
- HIBBING (1994): analysis of trust
- Based on survey data
Exec-leg relations Shugart (2005): Using a neo-Madisonian framework that has its roots in the Federalist Papers, we can see that any system with an elected presidency creates an agent of the electorate with which the legislative assembly must transact, provided the constitution or political practice endows the presidency with bargaining leverage. If a politically powerful presidency exists, executive- legislative transactions may take place over government formation or legislation, depending on the allocation of powers. If there is no presidency with political authority, transactions take place only between separate political parties, bargaining over coalition formation, or else an almost purely hierarchical democracy results, as with the Westminster ideal type. While the nature of party competition and internal organization of parties profoundly affects the performance of either parliamentary or any form of presidential democracy, the crucial fact of regimes with elected presidencies is that they endow one actor with executive authority that can be exercised, and indeed may become all the more important, even when assembly party system is fragmented. It is for this reason that a clear understanding of constitutional design, understood as the formal allocation of executive and legislative powers, is likely to remain an ongoing central concern for students of comparative democracy. Legislative size WEINGAST et al (1981): legislators will try to benefit their constituents at the expense of the general community through pork barrel spending and other distributive policies. Gives rise to excessive government spending because each legislator internalizes all the benefits from spend Number of empirical studies find support, but questionable whether they have identified a causal relationship since haven't addressed endogeneity of legislature size. Eg simultaneous causality: large public sector may require large number of legislatures to participate due to the increased complexity of budget matters. PETTERSON-LIDBOM (2012): Natural experiment. Finland and Sweden: the larger the size of the legislature, the smaller the size of the government. Holds in two independent data sets and multiplie discontinuity points: lends considerable credibility to the results being both externally and internally valid. Agenda Cartel Theory Cox and McCubbins 'Legislative Leviathan' 1993; Cox and McCubbins 'the Agenda' 2005 Party Unity Definition: SIEBERER (2006): 'The observable degree to which party members act in unison in parliamentary arena'
- Usually votes, but can look at other types of behaviour 2 key drivers:
1. Party cohesion: extent to which members have shared preferences.
2. Party discipline: degree to which members vote in unison because of sanctions and positive incentives Measurement:
- RICE index: absolute value of different between percentage votes for an issue and percentage votes against an issue. 100 if all for/against. If split equally (50/50) then score is 0.
- Voting unity focus, though other procedures for dissent - eg. Arguing, bargaining, compromise prior to vote.
- RICE index: doesn't capture other aspects - eg. Severity of dissent. Arguably not so relevant unless translates into government defeat. May also
overestimate small and relatively divided parties. Kam (2009): measure of depth (%age voting strength lost) and extent (% of party's voting strength lost). Focus on Western Europe (Central Europe lacks comparison). East Central Unity: start of 1990s was q.low. As time has gone by has improved. If had parties for this point in time would be similar.
Explaining Variation Both between countries, within parties and across votes. 3 main approaches:
1.Preference-driven approach Legislative outcomes determined directly by aggregation of MPs preferences
2.Institutional approach Formal rules and organisations alter way in which MPs pursue preferences
3.Sociological approach Parliamentary behaviour influenced by internal norms of party solidarity and loyalty. Legislators' Attributes
- Legislators with strong personal reputations are more independent of their parties o Have independent electoral base o Have individualistic attitude to decision-making o Have more career options outside their parties
- Local ties and local-level experience help to build and maintain such reputations
- TAVITS (2009): prior local-level political experience significantly increases the likelihood of defection from party line Electoral systems Electoral incentives:
- Low personal vote: party leaders control nominations and electoral lists are closed
- High personal vote: party leaders control order on lists but candidates compete against members of own party Competing principals (CAREY 2007) o If both leaders and voters influence the fate re-election of candidates, party unity is lower CAREY (2009) Confidence vote
- In presidential or semi-presidential systems party unity likely to be less high. Party can retain presidency even if loses government. Because of that party unity lower in pure presidential systems and also in semi-presidential systems.
- Top: presidential vs parliamentary systems. Less united in presidential systems.
- Left: closed systems vs right: open list system. Less united in open list - eg. Poland. Data rough. Sample from strange time period.
On the other hand, the impact of the confidence convention on party unity has been somewhat controversial. Some authors view the confidence convention as the necessary and sufficient condition for party cohesion 1, since self-interested government backbenchers do not want to bring down their government thus depriving themselves of the privileges of power. In this way, an increase in dissent, such as that in the UK in the 1970s, may be attributed to a weakening confidence convention.2 Yet, ultimately the marginal circumstances in which the confidence convention is an imposing parliamentary rule are rare, whilst few divisions are either implicitly or explicitly on matters of confidence. Thus, the government can be defeated in division lobbies without losing the confidence vote, as they were in the UK 65 times between 1970 and 1979 without resigning. 3 Whilst there is no doubt that the confidence convention can influence patterns of backbench dissent, such as in the midst of the economic crisis in Greece in 2011, the differences diminish as it becomes an increasingly remote threat. Moreover, the confidence convention is not a particularly fruitful line of analysis when investigating party unity in opposition parties. Situational factors:
- Governmental status o CAREY (2009): Parties in government more united than nongovernmental parties
? Intuitive argument but evidence mixed o SIEBERER (2006): Size of majority
? Smaller majorities are more united (makes sense) o SIEBERER (2006): Ideological distance matters. More isolated in PPG, higher united. Eg parties such as National Front in France normally behave in v.united way. In considering the situational allocation of resources in Parliament, one may expect government parties to be more unified, in terms of employing the vote of confidence as a disciplining device, alongside the greater potential for patronage and the importance of unity as a prerequisite for effective governing. Yet, according to Sieberer, it is apparent that government participation in fact has a negative effect on party unity, highlighting problems with attributing too much importance to career advancement more generally. This could, theoretically, be explained by the need to take a position on divisive issues and possibly voting for tough compromises with coalition partners.4 On the other hand, the statistical importance of Sieber's finding varies whilst other authors, such as Carey, find that membership in the governing coalition under parliamentarism does in fact boost parliamentary
1 Diermeir and Feddersen (1998) 2 Schwarz (1980) 3 Norton (1980) 4 Sieberer (2006) p.157
unity, increasing the rice index by 0.11. This discrepancy may be partially explained by the intuition that the relative levels of unity between the governing parties and the opposition are dependent on both the margin that the government parties enjoy, where unity is significantly higher when the margin of the government over the opposition decreases, and the unity of a PPG is also higher when the policy distance to the closest PPG increases, since it is harder for dissatisfied deputies to find alternatives in other PPGs, both on single policy decisions and more generally as an exit option. On the other hand, presidential governing parties appear to be marginally less unified than opposition parties, due to the susceptibility of MPs to pressure from a principal besides their legislative party leader.5 This highlights not only the importance of how the benefits of being in government will differ according to whether there is an independently elected chief executive, but also the difficulty in incorporating semi-presidential systems, such as Poland, into an aggregate analysis of the determinants of party unity. Kam's model (KAM 2009): model for Westminster
- Leaders and MPs o Party leaders and individual MPs in Westminster systems play to different audiences which generates a potential for dissent. MPs go after median voter in district. Party goes for median voter in electorate. Creates tension between party leaders and individual members. Incentives to break that.
- Career advancement o Leaders offer career advancement to minimise dissent, but problems of scarcity and short-term effect. But, after certain amount of time trying to win promotion (11 years) don't expect promotion so party members must rely on other instruments. Ie different things important at different times.
- Discipline and socialisation o Leaders switch to discipline and reliance on social norms of loyalty for late-career MPs In terms of career advancement, it is apparent that party leaders may use the promise of advancement to secure the loyalty of MPs who are otherwise less inclined to toe the party line. In Westminster style parliamentary governments in particular, such as the UK and Ireland, this is reinforced by parliamentary rules in which a so-called 'double monopoly of power'6 fuses professional advancement and policy influence into a single indivisible good controlled by the party leadership. Indeed, Kam finds that both within and across political parties, increasing the percentage of MPs in the party who hold frontbench positions by 10% appears to decrease dissent by 1.6-1.8%.7 However, there is of course a limit to the extent to which this can be used as an incentive, due not only to the logistical problem of the number of places, but also certain representational requirements that need to be met. It is generally accepted, both within and outside parliament, that those who don't get into parliament early have a much-diminished chance of achieving a cabinet position8, thus MPs discount the likelihood of promotion to the extent that using career advancement to secure the MP's loyalty is an effective but temporary strategy, necessitating alternative mechanisms to ensure party unity. Moreover, focus on such a 'double monopoly' is not an accurate depiction of many continental European legislatures, where there can be powerful committees allowing backbenchers alternative career paths to wield some degree of policy influence and to gain information. Stronger parliamentary committees, such as those which are free to rewrite bills, thus offer arenas for deputies to pursue their policy and career goals more independently of their respective party leaderships,
5 Carey (2007) p.102 6 Kam (2009): the system (1) concentrates office perks and policy influence in a single body, the cabinet, and then (2) provides one set of party leaders with exclusive control of the cabinet and the recruitment channels that lead to the cabinet. 7 Kam (2009) p.56 8 Buck (1963)
reducing PPG unity. Where an MP in a Westminster style parliament realises that promotion is not forthcoming, or in continental European systems where career advancement from the party leader may be less valuable, alternative means are clearly necessary to ensure loyalty. As the cost to the leader of providing advancement to the MP increases, the leader will lean more heavily on discipline to maintain the MP's loyalty. Yet since both career advancement and discipline are subject to increasing marginal costs, the substitution effect is not complete. The more that MPs discount advancement, due to a decreased probability of advancement over time in a Westminster system and the relatively lower utility gained from advancement in continental systems, the more MPs will begin to dissent, assuming the cost to the leader of imposing discipline remains constant. Yet, socialisation, that is the process of exposure or learning through which MPs acquire certain norms, may alter the relative costs of advancement and discipline.9 To the extent that MPs may become socialized, they internalize the costs of violating norms of party loyalty and unity, thus becoming increasingly deferent to leadership. Indeed, the empirical study of British MPs over the course of their parliamentary careers confirm that advancement is the main determinant of MPs' loyalty and that the longer an MP is in the House, the stronger are the MP's attachments to norms of party loyalty, implying that a process of socialisation does occur alongside the rational pursuit of higher office.10 Of course, the problem of any definitive conclusion about socialisation on a wider scale is that MP's voting behaviour is endogenous to their career prospects, thus one cannot easily identify the instances in which an MP toes the party line due to their forthcoming promotion. Nevertheless, although conclusive empirical testing of socialisation as an explanatory factor of party unity is tricky, the rationale behind the argument alongside the anecdotal support for it appears to make it worthy of further consideration. Agenda Control: CHANDLER ET AL (2006), COX ET AL (2008), SIEBERER (2011)
- Negative agenda control o Governing party leaders enjoy strong control over plenary agenda o No bill can become law unless voted on floor
- Party unity through agenda control o Governing party leaders ensure party unity by blocking bills that may potentially split a coalition government from reaching the floor o Governmental parties are rarely 'rolled', ie bills do not normally pass if the majority of a government party votes against.
- Parties resolve collective dilemmas through: o Floor voting coalitions - leaders discipline members o Procedural coalitions - leader control of the agenda
- Controversy: different assessments of same countries. Empirical tests
- Role rates: o Proportion of time a bill is opposed by the majority of a party but passes in final passage vote
- Key expectations if cartel theory holds o Majority parties will never be rolled o Minority parties will be rolled more than majority parties International Roll call evidence
- COX and MCCUBBINS (2011) o Japan 0.1 o Italy 0.1 o UK 0.6 o Germany 0.7
9 Kam (2009) p.36 10 Kam (2009)ch.9
o Brazil 09 SIEBERER o Unity lower in Finland and higher in Denmark and UK
COX (2006) Agenda control = 'any special ability to determine what bills are considered on the floor and under what procedures. Eg. Conference committees' ability to make 'take-it-or-leave-it' offers to the legislative chambers, or the ability of some committee chairs to delay bills by merely not scheduling them. 2 types of agenda power:
1. Positive agenda power = the power of agents to hasten/ensure the placement of bills on the plenary agenda
2. Negative agenda power = the ability of an agent to delay/veto the placement of bills on the plenary agenda De jure vs de facto measurements. 3 interlinked dimensions:
1. Instiutitonal: constitutional/procedural rules
2. Partisan: extent to which governments can rely on cohesive majorities in parliament. More cohesive majorities = increase in governmental agenda control
3. Positional: extent to which governmental parties are central in policy space. Lack of sufficient comparative analysis of latter two - measurement issues. Also transient/temporary due to electoral changes/composition of parliament, so less important in long term. In Western Europe: government tends to be main player. Controls legislative majority - due to sufficient disciplinary incentives through disciplinary instruments and the institutional incentive creating structure of parliament - allows it to control the parliamentary floor. In general, the government should be able to set the policy agenda and push major policy changes by introducing bills. Evidence of monopolistic agenda control in many West European parliaments, eg France and the UK. But, caveats/generalization will be disingenuous:
- Minority governments
- Coalition governments frequent in multiparty systems
- Exogenous limitations on agenda power: strong upper houses, strong presidents, strong judiciary o Diminish the importance of agenda control Doring:
- Procedure for passing legislation
- Rules and procedures covering the passage of the budget o Based on data from the 1980s
- Government's ability to: o Determine the plenary agenda o Veto 'money bills' o Restrict members' initiatives o Remove committee members o Curtail debates
- More extensive government's powers = greater AS power (botu positive and negative)
- Matches intutition but question his ranking. Simple 'yes/no' classification not accurate. Eg government's ability to veto money bills in Spain: more extensive than most. Even bills that do not directly concern taxes but might lead to increased expenditure for administration are shelved.
- Vs. autonomy of committees in determining their own agendas as a counterweight: o Ability to control own timetable o Ability to initiate legislation
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