Chapter 6

Chapter Summary:

National parliaments are the most important democratic institution of a polity. However, each European country gives a different importance to the role of parliamentarianism in politics and society.

In this chapter, we use Philip Norton’s typology of policy-making legislatures (USA) and policy-influencing legislatures (Europe). Examining a broad spectrum of contrasting legislatures from across Europe, the chapter also deals with the consolidation and institutionalisation of legislatures in Central and Eastern Europe and the parliaments in the Balkans.

Questions for Revision:

• What are the main functions of legislatures in contemporary European politics? Discuss using examples from at least two countries.
• What are the main features of executive–legislative relations in Germany and France?
• How consolidated are Central and Eastern European parliaments?
• Compare Nordic and Southern European legislatures. Discuss using at least one country from each region.
• Compare the influence of parliamentary opposition on policy-making in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Further Reading

Arter, David (ed.) (2007), Comparing and Classifying Legislatures. London: Frank Cass [also
electronically available as special issue of Journal of Legislative Studies, 12, 3/4, 2006].
Norton, Philip (ed.) (1998), Parliaments and Governments in Western Europe. London:
Frank Cass.
Norton, Philip and David M. Olson (eds)(2007), Post-Communist and Post-Soviet
Legislatures. Special issue of Journal of Legislative Studies, 13, 1.
Helms, Ludger (2008), Parliamentary Opposition in New and Old Democracies. London:
Frank Cass [special issue of Journal of Legislative Studies, 13,issue 14,issue 1/2.
Olson, David M. and Philip Norton (1996), The New Parliaments of Central and Eastern
Europe. London: Frank Cass (also electronically available as special issue of Journal of
Legislative Studies, 2(1), 1996).
Important electronic journal: Journal of Legislative Studies, excellent for research studies
on European parliaments.
Also West European Politics and East European Politics and Societies

Web resource

International Parliamentary Union (IPU), excellent website with database on all parliaments under  accessed 22 August 2009.

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