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Koß, Michael (2017): How Legislative Democracy Creates Political Parties. ECPR General Conference. Panel Evolution of Legislative Institutions, Oslo, 06. - 09. September 2017.

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The legitimacy of democracies rests on three fundamental requirements: individual freedoms, the ability to participate in elections, and the requirement of consent of an elected body to all legislation. This paper addresses the third of these requirements, legislative democracy. More precisely, it asks why legislative organization a) differs and b) changes over time. To comparatively explain the long-term evolution of legislative democracy, the paper focuses on Western Europe.

The Paper provides a comparative qualitative analysis (QCA) of the evolution of two core features of legislative organization, plenary agenda control and committee power. Four lower chambers in countries with most different historical legacies are selected: Britain, France, Sweden, and Germany. The analysis starts with the introduction of inclusive suffrage formulas after 1866 and ends in 2015. This results in 82 (failed and successful) procedural reforms aiming to depart from the legislative state of nature characterized by equal access to the agenda and non-existent or weak legislative committees.

Potential variables explaining the evolution of legislative democracy are the effective number of parties, powerful second chambers or federal power-sharing, the electoral system, the presence of anti-system parties, legislative obstruction, coalition or minority government and backbench demand for extended participation in the passage of legislation. The analysis concludes that the presence of anti-system obstruction is individually necessary and jointly sufficient for government / majority control of the agenda and that, absent such anti-system obstruction, backbench demand for participation is necessary and sufficient for the empowerment of committees.

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