Edited by William F. Shughart II, Laura Razzolini and Michael Reksulak
Chapter 10: Parliaments
This chapter analyzes national parliaments from an international comparative perspective. Scholars thus far have focused their attention mainly on the organization and functioning of single legislatures, chiefly the US Congress (see Mueller 2003 for a review), a few other countries (for example, the French Fifth Republic in Tsebelis and Money 1997) or the European Parliament (Steunenerg 1994; Crombez 2000). Comparative analyses of the determinants of the different institutional features that characterize legislative assemblies have been limited to the ‘natural laboratory’ of the US state legislatures (McCormick and Tollison 1981; Crain and Tollison 1990; McCormick and Turner 2000). Here we will try to expand this research program to parliaments across the world. Thus, rather than aiming at providing a complete review of the vast literature on the legislative branch of government – which would include contributions from political science, constitutional law, industrial organization, constitutional economics and public choice, as well as from other disciplines – we focus on selected topics that we deem either especially relevant or where new research is producing interesting results, namely: the organizations of national parliaments throughout the world; the determinants of their institutional differences; the mechanisms by which various parliaments take decisions; the presence of cycles in the production of laws; and the origins of the main models of democratic parliaments.