Abstracts 4/2023 english

TokatlıMahir: Establishing a semi-competitive autocracy in Turkey: The presidential and parliamentary elections of May 14 and 28, 2023. 

The parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey of May 14, 2023, were considered crucial. Contrary to pollsters‘ predictions, the expected swing did not materialize, and the AKP secured an absolute parliamentary majority through a well-crafted electoral alliance, despite losing a significant number of votes. The opposition emerged as the loser in both elections because it was unable to present itself as a real alternative to the AKP and to unite the entire opposition. These elections have led to a debate on the typology of the Turkish regime. Terms such as “competitive” and “closed autocracy” are in circulation. This makes it clear that the issue is no longer the status of autocracy, but rather its degree. While in competitive autocracies, despite unequal conditions, elections are still meaningful and can lead to change, these prospects seem to be minimized by the interventions of the ruling party. In Turkey, elections take place under legally and substantively unequal conditions, so the term “semi-competitive autocracy” seems more appropriate. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 741 – 757]

Krumm, Thomas: Voting in the polycrisis: The Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections of May 2023 in Germany. 

Erdoğan’s success in the May 2023 presidential election came as a surprise to many. It masks long-term changes in Turkey’s party system. One constant, however, is the strong support for Erdoğan in many Western European migration societies. The article first summarizes the explanatory factors for the deviating electoral behavior of the Turkish electorate in Germany and then outlines the interest-driven reform of Turkish electoral law under AKP governments. In the empirical part, the results are analyzed cross-sectionally at the level of the 17 locations of polling stations in Germany and long-term developments are summarized. The regional strongholds of the parties across Germany are also stable in the long term. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 758 – 772]

Pfeiffer, Christian and Nikolaus Werz: The Spanish parliamentary elections of July 23, 2023 and the return of the territorial question.

From 2020 to 2023, Spain was governed for the first time since the Second Republic (1931 – 1939) by a coalition of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and the left-wing alliance Unidas Podemos (UP). Despite, or perhaps because of, their intense legislative work, the political divide between the government and the right-wing opposition deepened. In the regional and municipal elections on May 28, 2023, the ruling coalition suffered a defeat, leading Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to call for national elections on July 23, 2023. The conservative Partido Popular (PP) under Alberto Núñez Feijóo emerged as the strongest force from these elections. However, despite their victory, the PP was unable to form a government majority. Subsequently, the PSOE succeeded in forming a government again, in cooperation with the left-wing alliance Sumar and with the tolerance of various parties, some of which were separatist. This government formation was contingent upon a new and controversial amnesty law, which was crucial for the support of the parties of so-called peripheral nationalism in the election of Sánchez in Parliament. As a result, the political atmosphere in Spain has further deteriorated. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 773 – 797]

Cavalieri, Alice and Elisabetta De Giorgi: Are they all the same? The Italian populist parties in parliament. 

Italy has a thirty-year tradition of populist parties, starting with the foundation of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) in 1993. Since then, the Italian parliament has counted another three major populist parties – Northern League (Lega Nord – LN), Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia – FDI) and Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle – M5S) –, while the first fully-fledged populist government in Western Europe (Conte I, formed of Five Star Movement and League) won office in Italy in 2018. With the sole, although fundamental, exception of the Five Star Movement, which is considered as a valence populist party, all the other Italian populists are rightist parties. This work consequently intends to compare the behavior of right-wing populists (FI, League, FDI) with that of valence populists (M5S) in parliament, but also that of rightist populists between each other. In addition, focusing on the last three Italian legislative terms (XVII, XVIII and XIX) will allow us to explore if and how these parties’ behavior changed due to their different institutional role (government or opposition). Using data about parliamentary party groups’ voting behavior and different parliamentary activities (oral and written questions, and interpellations) at the Chamber of Deputies, this work speaks both to scholarship on populist parties and legislative studies and contributes to understanding how populist parties conceive and carry out their representative role within the institutions. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 798 – 816]

DählerThomas: Special characteristics of the Swiss parliamentary, party and electoral system.

The parliamentary culture in the three levels of government in Switzerland (federal, cantonal, and municipal) differs in various ways from the parliamentary customs and practices in other European countries, particularly in Germany and Austria. The strong tradition of popular rights in Switzerland shapes the work and impact of the parliaments at all three levels. Popular rights form the core of direct democracy. They allow for proposing revisions to constitutional and legislative provisions (popular initiative) or voting on parliamentary decisions retrospectively (referendum). They thus expand the indirect democracy that is limited to the election of individuals. In addition to a brief overview of the history and orientation of political parties, the procedures for the election of parliaments at the federal and cantonal levels are examined. Other peculiarities include the mostly annual rotation of the presidencies of the Swiss parliaments and the principle of part-time participation in the parliaments. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 817 – 834]

LüthiRuthThe Swiss Federal Assembly: A parliament in a consensus democracy.

The political system of Switzerland is a decentralized, federalist, multiparty-system in which power-sharing plays an important role. The separation of powers is strong, so that Parliament (Federal Assembly) assumes its functions independently from the executive. The Federal Assembly, consisting of the National Council and the Council of States, plays an important role especially in the law-making process. The Parliament can debate and change every single article of a bill. Different alliances between the different parties supporting the proposals of the government or not can occur even during one single law-making process. The election of the members of the executive by the Parliament also enforces the position of the latter. In the second part of the last century different reforms improved the parliamentary instruments and procedures. Therefore, the Federal Assembly is now able to profit from its strong position in the political system and to influence the political decision processes in a considerable way. In the complex processes of the bicameral system, the members of Parliament have many opportunities to build alliances to influence the decisions. However, it is necessary that they are willing and able to make deals with members of other parties. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 835 – 853]

von Wyss, Moritz: The Swiss cantonal parliaments: A small cosmos of historical and modern parliamentarism.

The cantonal parliaments were an important organ of the liberal revolution in the 19th century to democratize Switzerland. There was even a parliamentary supremacy in the century before last. But what has become of this powerful position? For historical and political reasons, the cantonal parliaments play more a secondary role today, although they still have a strong position under constitutional law. At the same time, this contrasts with the diversity of parliamentary life and parliamentary instruments, which have a long tradition. The chances of the cantonal parliaments regaining an important central position today are to be found in the mediating role between government and direct democratic popular rights, i.e. in the idea of parliament as a place to discuss and to make public responsibility transparent, to integrate minorities and to order and satisfy the political dispute. Only, this would require political will. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 854 – 872]

Strebel, Michael: The Swiss communal parliaments: A question of language region rather than municipality size.

Communes form the third tier of the Swiss state structure and are organized differently from a political perspective. Parliaments are one possibility. In some Cantons, parliaments are the mandatory organizational form, while other Cantons lack the necessary foundations for a parliament; in other cantons again, the organizational form can be chosen. Parliaments are also unevenly distributed across the language regions: they are widespread in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland, characterized by very long traditions, while less so in German-speaking Switzerland. In German-speaking Switzerland the communal assembly is most commonly found. Across all Cantons, only a few provisions by the legislator define their internal organization. Parliaments have great freedom to shape their parliamentary law, such as their basic organization, frequency of meetings, procedures, speaking times, leadership, and parliamentary instruments; significantly, there are very different requirements concerning the number of seats. Consequently, parliaments are characterized by great heterogeneity. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 873 – 888]

ReiserMarion, Jonathan Rinne and Lars Vogel: “Unequal democracy” from the perspective of MPs – findings of the Jena Parliamentary Survey 2022.

In the current debate on the causes of “unequal democracy”, the perspectives of members of parliament have hardly been taken into account, despite their expert status and their important role in representative democracy. This article therefore examines the perceptions and evaluations of MPs in the areas of responsiveness and recruitment on the basis of the Jena Parliamentary Survey 2022. The analysis shows that MPs perceive a significantly stronger influence of financially strong interests on politics – compared to their own influence and that of the average voter – and thus confirm a basic assumption of “unequal democracy”. However, they do not see the causes of unequal responsiveness in themselves, but rather in the greater opportunities of rich actors to exert influence and the lower participation of poorer sections of the population. Their perception is strongly ideological and hardly influenced by individual factors. The analysis of campaign financing reveals party-specific patterns but also unequal access to parliament for people with low wealth, since they acquire fewer donations and have to spend a relatively higher proportion of their wealth on the election campaign. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 889 – 911]

Schliesky, Utz: Parliamentary public sphere in the digital world: A new structural transformation?

Like (almost) all other areas of life, the parliamentary public sphere is also being significantly changed by digitalization. Many work processes benefit from digital possibilities, but it is precisely the “social” networks that contribute to the dismantling of the parliamentary public sphere as we have known it for decades. The article is dedicated to these dark sides of digitalization and uses ten aspects to identify how parliamentary democracy is depriving itself of its parliamentary public sphere through digital instruments. Five proposals attempt to establish parliamentary democracy with its parliamentary public sphere in the digital age. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 912 – 922]

Vowe, Gerhard: How is parliamentary communication changing in a digital world? Pluralization, individualization and dynamization as challenges for parliaments.

How is parliamentary communication changing as a result of parliaments, committees, and MPs using digital media? There are three important changes. First, parliamentary communication is becoming more pluralized; more parliamentary voices are being heard. Second, it is becoming more individualized; messages are more individually tailored. Third, it is becoming more dynamic, i.e. faster and shorter, more volatile and more surprising. These changes are ambivalent. Following Jürgen HabermasUtz Schliesky emphatically warns of the dangers. But: the warnings are not sufficiently backed up by empirical evidence. After all, there is no evidence of a terminal decline of parliaments after 30 years of experience with digital media. Furthermore, an international comparison of parliaments would not provide any evidence that the more a parliament used digital options, the less important it would become in shaping public opinion. And above all: the view of the disintegration of parliament through digital-based communication is not shared by parliamentary players – on the contrary. The following speaks against the measures proposed by Schliesky. First, instead of a “self-restriction”, a communication code for MPs would make sense. Second, in the “rules of the game for digital spaces”, it remains unclear where there is a regulatory gap. And third, “public digital platforms” are by no means politically feasible. [ZParl, vol. 54 (2023), no. 4, pp. 923 – 930]

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