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Re-parliamentarization? A quantitative assessment of the Swiss Parliament's legislative function, 1987-2015

English title Re-parliamentarization? A quantitative assessment of the Swiss Parliament's legislative function, 1987-2015
Applicant Sciarini Pascal
Number 159370
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de science politique et relations internationales Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.08.2015 - 31.10.2018
Approved amount 260'607.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Political science
Communication sciences

Keywords (5)

legislative function; Switzerland; political decision-making; database; parliament

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Re-parliamentarization? A quantitative assessment of the Swiss Parliament's legislativefunction, 1987-2015Recent studies have challenged the conventional view that the legislative function of the Swiss Parliament is weak in comparative perspective. However, a systematic analysis of the influence of the Swiss parliament on political decision-making and of how this influence has evolved over time is still missing. Our research project aims at filling this gap. It integrates the study of the parliaments' legislative function in a more comprehensive framework taking into account the pre-parliamentary and the direct democratic phases, and covers the entire set of legislative acts adopted by the Swiss parliament from 1987 to 2015 (i.e. roughly 1400 acts)
Lay summary

Des études récentes ont remis en cause la conception classique selon laquelle la fonction législative du parlement suisse est faible en perspective comparée. Cependant, une analyse systématique de l'influence du parlement sur les processus d'élaboration des décisions politiques et de la manière dont cette influence a évolué au cours du temps fait défaut. Pour combler cette lacune, notre projet intègre l'étude de la fonction législative du parlement dans un cadre d'analyse prenant en compte les phases pré-parlementaire et référendaire, et il couvre l'ensemble des actes législatifs adoptés par le parlement suisse de 1987 à 2015.

La fonction législative du parlement a deux composantes: la fonction d'impulsion et la fonction d'élaboration/adoption des actes législatifs. Nous proposons d'évaluer la fonction législative du parlement par une analyse quantitative des modifications apportées par le parlement suisse aux projets d'actes législatifs préparés par le gouvernement, d'une part, et par une étude de la capacité du parlement à anticiper la probabilité de succès des actes législatifs dans la phase référendaire, d'autre part. Compte tenu des interactions entre les phases du processus décisionnel, la capacité du parlement à surmonter avec succès l'écueil référendaire peut servir d'indicateur de la force du parlement.

En outre, nous allons aussi examiner si et dans quelle mesure les fonctions d'impulsion et de décision parlementaires varient selon trois types de facteurs: les caractéristiques intrinsèques du projet, les facteurs liés au processus, tel que le degré de développement de la phase pré-parlementaire., et les facteurs liés aux acteurs, telles que les caractéristiques des députés.  

Nos analyses s'appuieront sur une base de données intégrée des processus décisionnels. Nous devrons préalablement mettre à jour, étendre et relier entre elles diverses banques de données que nous avons développées et/ou utilisées dans des études antérieures.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 30.03.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Who Europeanises parliamentary attention, on which issues and how? A policy agenda perspective
Gava Roy, Sciarini Pascal, Varone Frédéric (2017), Who Europeanises parliamentary attention, on which issues and how? A policy agenda perspective, in The Journal of Legislative Studies, 23(4), 566-593.
How MPs' ties to interest groups influence legislative co-sponsorship
FischerManuel, VaroneFrédéric, GavaRoy, SciariniPascal, How MPs' ties to interest groups influence legislative co-sponsorship, in Social Networks.
Policy Agenda-Setting: Regierung als Hauptinitiator von Entscheidungsprozessen?
JaquetJulien, SciariniPascal, VaroneFrédéric, Policy Agenda-Setting: Regierung als Hauptinitiator von Entscheidungsprozessen?, in Haldemann Theo, Ritz Adrian, Sager Fritz (ed.), NZZ Verlag, Zürich.
The Europeanization of parliamentary attention in and out of the European Union: France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland compared
Sciarini Pascal, Varone Frédéric, Gava Roy, Brouard Sylvain, Navarro Julien, Palau Anna M., Vliegenthart Rens, The Europeanization of parliamentary attention in and out of the European Union: France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland compared, in Baumgartner Frank, Grossman Emiliano, Breunig Christian (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Datasets

Legpro (Legislative processes)

Author Sciarini, Pascal; Gava, Roy; Jaquet, Julien
Publication date 15.12.2018
Persistent Identifier (PID) Legpro
Repository Legpro


Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Comparative Agenda Project (CAP) United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Campaign spending and the outcome of direct democratic votes 05.12.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Gava Roy; Sciarini Pascal;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference Revisiting policy change by means of quantitative text analysis 05.07.2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands Jaquet Julien;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference MPs' agenda-setting success: Does co-sponsorship matter? 05.07.2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands Sciarini Pascal; Gava Roy;
PolText Incubator Workshop Talk given at a conference Legislating or rubber-stamping? The impact of Parliament on law-making 09.05.2018 Budapest, Hungary Gava Roy; Jaquet Julien;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference Legislating or rubber-stamping? The impact of parliament on law-making 06.02.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Jaquet Julien; Gava Roy;
Political Science Research Seminar Individual talk Legislating or rubber-stamping? The impact of parliament on law-making 03.10.2017 University of St-Gallen, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal;
ECPR General Conference Talk given at a conference How MPs' ties to interest groups influence legislative co-sponsorship 22.08.2017 Hamburg, Germany Jaquet Julien; Sciarini Pascal;
Workshop on Micro-foundations of party democracy Talk given at a conference How MPs' ties to interest groups influence legislative co-sponsorship 20.07.2017 Bremen, Germany Gava Roy;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference Legislating or rubber-Stamping? The impact of parliament on law-making 16.06.2017 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Sciarini Pascal; Gava Roy;
Staff seminar, Department of political science and international relations Individual talk Campaign spending and the outcome of direct democratic votes 27.03.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Jaquet Julien; Gava Roy;
Annual Conference of the Swiss Political Science Association Talk given at a conference When governments bet: Campaign spending and the outcome of direct democratic votes 12.01.2017 St-Gallen, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Gava Roy; Jaquet Julien;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference The Europeanization of parliamentary attention in and out of the EU: France, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland compared 28.06.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Sciarini Pascal; Gava Roy;
Annual Conference of the Comparative Agendas Project Talk given at a conference Relational resources of MPs and agenda-setting power: Evidence from the Swiss parliament 27.06.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Gava Roy; Sciarini Pascal;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Presentation of our research project during the "Semaine de la démocratie" Talk 23.09.2017 University of Geneva, Switzerland Gava Roy;
Getting data from the web: Tools and techniques for automating data collection (Doctoral school CUSO, co-organized with Bruno Wüest) Workshop 10.12.2015 Geneva, Switzerland Gava Roy;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Presentation of our research project (in particular our measure of parliamentary amendments) to civil servants of the Parliamentary Services 06.12.2017 University of Geneva, Switzerland
Meeting with the Parliamentary Services of the Swiss Parliament, exchange of information regarding databases on decision-making processes 08.09.2017 Bern, Switzerland
Meeting with the Parliamentary Services of the Swiss Parliament, exchange of information regarding databases on decision-making processes 08.06.2016 Bern, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Other activities Lecture on Swiss politics, BA in political science, BA in international relations Western Switzerland 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
184124 The Parliament's Fight for the Stranglehold Over Political Decision-Making 01.04.2019 Doc.Mobility
149689 Lobbying, litigation and direct democracy: Comparing advocacy strategies of interest groups in Switzerland and California 01.11.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)
162427 Parliamentary Careers in Comparison 01.09.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Recent studies have challenged the conventional view that the legislative function of the Swiss Parliament is weak in comparative perspective. However, a systematic analysis of the influence of the Swiss parliament on political decision-making and of how this influence has evolved over time is still missing. Our research project aims at filling this gap. It integrates the study of the parliaments' legislative function into a more comprehensive framework taking into account both earlier (pre-parliamentary) and subsequent (direct democratic) decision-making stages, and covers the entire set of legislative acts adopted by the Swiss parliament from 1987 to 2015 (i.e. seven legislative periods and roughly 1400 acts). The parliament's legislative function comprises two main dimensions, agenda-setting and law-making. The agenda-setting function rests on the ability of MPs or parliamentary committees to initiate legislation. The law-making function, in turn, relates to the parliament's capacity to elaborate, modify and ultimately adopt legislative acts. Elaborating on previous studies of parliamentary amendments, we will apply up-to-date tools to quantitatively assess the extent to which the Swiss parliament modifies draft legislation prepared by the government. In addition, we will also seek to evaluate the parliament's legislative function from the perspective of its capacity to anticipate the likelihood of success of legislative acts in the subsequent, direct democratic phase. Given the interactions between decision-making phases in general, and the existence of the referendum "threat" in particular, the ability of the Swiss parliament to have its legislation not challenged or accepted in the direct democratic phase is especially crucial, and can be used as an indicator of the parliament's strength. Similarly, taking into account that government may strategically anticipate the subsequent stages will lead us to assess the parliament's legislative function in the light of this specific context. More specifically, we will ask whether a low amendment rate of governmental proposals is a sign of parliamentary weakness, or rather of the ability of the Swiss government to draft proposals that receive across-the-board support in parliament. Recognizing the strategic nature of the interactions among decision-makers will help us to provide a finer-grained view of parliament's legislative function.Further to analyzing how Swiss parliament's legislative function has evolved over time, we will also investigate whether and to what extent its agenda-setting and law-making capacities vary according to three sets of factors: project-related characteristics, such as their intrinsic importance, their juridical type, or the issue topic at stake; process-related factors, such as the institutional design and resulting degree of development of the pre-parliamentary phase (i.e. whether a consultation procedure, an expert committee or any other form of consultation mechanism was held); actor-related factors, such as MPs' characteristics.To reach these goals, we will need to resort to an integrated database allowing for the systematic and quantitative tracing of decision-making processes. To that end, we will update, extend and relate to each other five data-sets that we have developed and/or used in previous studies: (1) A data-set that for each decision-making process provides information on the pre-parliamentary procedures that were at work and on the resulting degree of development of the pre-parliamentary phase; (2) a data-set on all parliamentary votes held in the lower house - and some held in the upper house; (3) a data-set on MPs' membership in parliamentary committees, and affiliation in interest groups and firms; (4) a data-set on parliamentary interventions (initiatives and motions) introduced in both chambers of parliament; and (5) a data-set on legislative inputs and outputs, i.e. on legislative proposals introduced by the Swiss government and on legislative acts eventually adopted by the Swiss parliament and possibly submitted to a direct democratic vote.The creation of an integrated database on decision-making processes will be a first and important milestone. Further, by offering a systematic assessment of the Swiss parliament's legislative function, the "core business" of any parliament, our research will help to overcome the limitations of existing studies that focus on institutional and formal aspects. Given the importance of contextual changes such as Europeanization and party polarization in contemporary Swiss politics, shedding light on how these changes affect the parliament's agenda-setting and law-making functions is also of utmost importance from a practical perspective.
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