Schwalbach, Jan ORCID: 0000-0002-6990-8098 (2022). Structuring Legislative Behavior - How Institutions Shape Political Interaction in Parliament and Beyond. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Members of Parliament (MPs) might have a free mandate from a legal perspective, but they are certainly not free from external influence. Institutional structures shape political behavior of MPs and legislative parties in parliaments. Only if it is evident what influences the behavior of MPs is it possible to analyze legislative behavior in an unbiased way as a political science scholar as well as to make up one's mind as a citizen about the functioning of a core institution of democracy. This applies regardless of how exactly the parliamentary mandate is defined in a country's constitution. To analyze the influence of these factors, the first focus of this dissertation is on the daily political behavior of MPs and parties in parliament. To this end, three chapters take a closer look at institutional rules, political actors and institutionalized forms of interaction that structure legislative behavior. First, I argue that the timing in the electoral cycle is key component that affects the behavior of parties in parliament. I analyze how the tone of debates on government bill proposals changes throughout the legislative cycle in six national parliaments. The results show that there is not a uniform trend towards the end of the legislative cycle but instead a significant difference between government and opposition parties. Second, using two different text-as-data approaches, I look at the effect of populist radical right parties on the parliamentary discourse. The results show that these parties do not change the government-opposition divide, but they dominate parliamentary debates especially when immigration is discussed. Third, in a co-authored study we analyze the tone of government bill debates from four parliaments with alternating minority-majority governments for more than 20 years. We show that opposition party speakers are indeed more positive under minority than under majority governments than we would expect given the ex ante policy conflict between the opposition and the government. While the first focus regards the system of parliaments only, its implication go far beyond this arena. As the decisions and actions taken in parliament are decisive for the policy output as well as the general political climate in a country, they inevitably affect voters and their perception of politics. Using a preregistered survey experiment in Germany with more than 1800 participants, I examine in the last chapter in a vignette design the extent to which the perception of party statements changes when the respective party label and the institutional context changes. The results suggests that the perception of party statements in multiparty systems is influenced by factors that go beyond the dichotomous effect of in-group vs. out-group differences and that trust in the institutional context has a significant positive impact on the perceived credibility of the statement. Taken together, the theoretical and methodological contribution and the overall argument of this dissertation is threefold: First, I provide a structure of the different categories of factors that structure political behavior in parliament and how they interact with each other. The argument is that in the institutional context of a parliament, several factors always affect legislative behavior simultaneously. Only if these are considered at the same time and in their interaction can political behavior be meaningfully studied in this context. Second, I provide examples of theoretical and methodological applications on the bases of this framework by analyzing the daily interactions in parliaments. I argue that this is a particularly useful environment to analyze the structural influences on legislative behavior. Third, I argue that political behavior in parliament and the explanatory factors identified in this context have a substantial impact beyond the institution of parliament. Using the example of the influence of coalitions and institutional context, I show how these factors influence voters' perception of party messages. This is important as it affects voting behavior and thus, again, legislative behavior itself.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-622868
Date: 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Political Science > Cologne Center for Comparative Politics
Subjects: Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Legislative PoliticsEnglish
Political BehaviorEnglish
Party CompetitionEnglish
Parliamentary SpeechesEnglish
Survey ExperimentsEnglish
Date of oral exam: 20 June 2022
NameAcademic Title
Rohlfing, IngoProf. Dr.
Proksch, Sven-OliverProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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