Abstracts 4/2006 englisch

Weisensee, Hanne: Future concept without parliaments? The working group “Global Governance” of the Inquiry Commission on “Globalization of the world economy” in the German Bundestag.
From 2000 to 2002, the academic mentors of “Global Governance” in Germany had the chance to directly discuss their concepts with politicians in an Inquiry Commission of the German Bundestag. Under the title “Globalization of the world economy”, this commission dealt, among other topics, very thoroughly with this subject. It offered the unique opportunity to develop an impact of the “Global Governance” concept outside the academic community. However, the outcome can be altogether qualified as unsuccessful. Why is that so? Was it owed to the only marginal willingness of political actors to acknowledge the academic know-how in its depth? Or is it also due to “blank spaces” inherent in the basis concept of global governance? [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 669 ff.]

Marschall, Stefan: Neo-parliamentary democracy beyond the nation state? Transnational assemblies in international organizations.
Facing processes of Europeanization and globalization the question has been newly raised how to safeguard democracy. For the European Union one answer is to recur to the concept of parliamentary legitimization by strengthening national parliaments or the European Parliament. A transfer of the principles of parliamentarism to the level of international politics seems much more challenging. However, even beyond nation states a form of parliamentary organisations exists, so-called “Transnational” or “Parliamentary Assemblies”. This type of institution has expanded rapidly within the last decades and is attached to international organisations to different extents. An analysis of the composition, of the mode of operation, of structures, and of functions of the assemblies of the Council of Europe, NATO, OSCE and WEU indicates that the assemblies have – although restricted – potentials to generate more democracy beyond the nation state. Due to their new qualities and functions these organisations can be referred to as being “neo-parliamentary”. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 683 ff.]

Habegger, Beat: The parliamentarization of the UN by the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The trend towards parliamentarization in international politics is too strong to be missed: Inter-parliamentary institutions that were previously far removed from the public spotlight have become attractive political forums. This is due to the increasing shift of political decision-making processes to an international level. Many factual issues today have international dimensions and can only be resolved in cooperation with other states and international organizations. The expectations associated with the inter-parliamentary movement are twofold: It serves to compensate lawmakers for their diminishing political influence and helps to balance the democratic deficits of international organizations. The still-nascent parliamentarization of the UN has no parliamentary component yet, although it has recently begun to assign higher priority to the integration of national parliaments. The closer ties between the UN and national parliaments are primarily the achievement of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Despite successes such as those of the IPU there are also reasons why parliamentarization is still lagging behind. Therefore, recommendations concerning future steps are needed. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 698 ff.]

Mittag, Jürgen: On the way to parliamentarization of the European Union: The new financial regulations of the statute for Members of the European Parliament.
Parliamentary salaries as well as expense allowances for Members of the European Parliament have been subject of political debates for many decades. Particularly in Germany, the controversy between parts of the media and the European Parliament about the amount and modalities of financial allowances culminated in the context of the European election campaign 2004. In June 2005, a statute for Members of the European Parliament was adopted terminating the debate at least for the time being and preparing the floor for a standardized regulation for the first time. Parliamentary salaries (related to national regulations so far) will be subject to an European Union wide regulation from 2009 onwards. At the same time, considerable specifications were made regarding additional benefits for European parliamentarians. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 713 ff.]

Pütz, Christine: Weak parties in France? A revaluation of the Fifth Republic.
French political parties have traditionally been considered as very weak. In addition to historical reasons, the direct election of the French president, introduced in 1958, stands at the core of efforts to explain this weakness. This thesis of presidentialization, however, rests on a reduced notion that ascribes to each institution always the same degree of effectiveness independent of its specific context. A differentiated analysis that follows the neo-institutionalist approach allows a new view on French parties considering the institutional context of the presidential election. Given the French parliament’s ability to dismiss a government, the direct election of the French president does not weaken French parties. In fact, presidential elections in France have evolved in principle into contests between parties, with candidates holding party chairmanship and being dependent on party support. The president of the Fifth Republic has come to rely on his party’s support not only in wielding executive power, but also in attaining it. Thus, the systemic functions of French parties have aligned them with those of parties in parliamentary democracies. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 728 ff.]

Köppl, Stefan: Change of power by narrowest of margins: The Elections of the Italian Parliament of April 9 and 10, 2006.
The Italian elections of April 2006 brought both the victory of Romano Prodi’s centre-left by a surprisingly narrow margin and the defeat of the ruling centre-right underSilvio Berlusconi. Again, electoral law and alliance formation proved to be crucial for the election result. For the first time the new electoral law, passed by the Berlusconigovernment, was applied. And for the first time, centre-left and centre-right managed to form complete electoral alliances. Despite the narrow vote on the national level, a closer look reveals clear differences between various regions and age groups. The proportions between centre-left and centre-right remained almost the same while there were significant changes within the two alliances. In spite of narrow majorities in parliament and the heterogeneity of the centre-left coalition, Romano Prodi managed to quickly build a new cabinet. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 746 ff.]

Pfeil, Florian: Change of government in the stronghold of social democracy. The elections of the Swedish Parliament of September 17, 2006.
Sweden has been a social democratic stronghold for a long time. Hence, the victory of the centre-right alliance led by Fredrik Reinfeldt, the new prime minister, in the elections to the Riksdag 2006 came to many as a surprise – given the fact of Sweden’s sound economic development. However, the change of government is the logical consequence of: (1) serious flaws of the previous social democratic minority government and (2) a modern election campaign reminiscent of Tony Blair and Britain’s New Labour by the then centre-right opposition. This election campaign was backed by a reorientation particularly of the position of the conservative Moderates. The outcome is a debacle for Sweden’s Social Democrats. They lost 4.9 percentage points (from 39.9 to 35 per cent of the vote). This disastrous result challenges the Social Democrats’ character as Sweden’s dominant party. Moreover, their leaderGöran Perssonannounced to step in 2007, and a successor will be difficult to find as the designated Anna Lindh was assassinated in 2003. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 763 ff.]

Gilka-Bötzow, Agnes and Sabine Kropp: Institutional development in Russia and Ukraine: Vertical distribution of power as driving force.
In Russia and in the Ukraine, the relationship between center and regions is mirrored in the institutional order of the political system. Although these countries’ political systems are similar in many respects, they differ significantly regarding the formal competences of the regions. Taking informal institutions into account, however, similar vertical clientelistic relationships between the center and the regions are widespread both in the Russian Federation and the Ukraine with their centralized and unitary systems. Institutional development in both countries is strongly connected to vertical division of power. The formal institutional orders are still in flux and depend on the respective informal power relations between competing political, economic and interest groups. This constitutes a continuous risk for the democratic consolidation of both Russia’s and Ukraine’s political institutions. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 778 ff.]

Sturm, Roland: Governing Britain. British political science debates the future of the Westminster model.
There is unanimity in the British political science discourse that the Westminster model has undergone profound changes. What is open to debate is the direction it has taken. A number of authors have argued that British politics has been transformed by the dual forces of Europeanization and the end of the exclusive role of parliamentary government, including inroads into parliamentary sovereignty and the decision-making power of No. 10 Downing Street with the result of a “hollowing out” of the state. This has provoked critics who have argued that the core executive in Britain still has a very efficient centre, namely the prime minister who enjoys a wide range of powers and an undisputed political predominance that may even be compared to traits of presidencies. Prime ministerial government has proven its effectiveness even today in a new environment where political decisions result less in the institutionalization of command and control and more in cooperation with civil society. The regulatory state, targeting and policy networks are from the perspectve of critics of the „hollowing out“-hypothesis not challenging but strengthening the political center. On a meta-level, the diverging interpretations of the future of the Westminster model reflect the conflict between competing narratives of British politics, for example between the Whig interpretation and constructivists. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 795 ff.]

Schmidt, Manfred G.: The future of democracy.
The future prospects of democracies are discussed from the angle of an empirical comparative approach to democratic theory. In contrast to mainstream contributions which advance optimistic accounts of the future capabilities and prospects of democracies, not only the strengths and advantages of democracies must be taken into consideration but also the structural weaknesses of democratic regimes. Even best-practice-democracies find themselves confronted with demanding challenges. These include a globalisation-democracy-dilemma, short-term decisions, reduced error-correcting capabilities, deficient recruitment of qualified political leaders, and the persistence of the Hobbesian problem of the “inconstancy of the number”. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 812 ff.]

Hüller, Thorsten: The ruling of the quorum? A suggestion for resolving a problem of direct democracy.
Quorums of participation or consent are contested components of direct-democratic institutions – at least in Germany. It can be argued that a modified version of a quorum is desirable compared to direct democracy without quorums, on the one hand, and to conventional ones, on the other hand. Using an anti-proportional quorum the extent of necessary participation would vary with the measure of consent. This proposed quorum could cope with all known problems addressed by advocates and critics of conventional quorums. It is particularly helpful in making political equality real in instruments of direct democracy. [ZParl, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 823 ff.]

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