The paper argues that without a broad elite consensus on democratic institutions and practices new democracies remain fragile. The paper will study if and how support for democracy in the general population is associated with the degree of elite consensus on democratic values and procedures across party lines.
This special issue of the journal German Politics, jointly edited by Thomas Poguntke (University of Düsseldorf) and Thomas Saalfeld (University of Bamberg) includes a number of articles on the outcome of the 2009 general election in Germany and analyses of voting behaviour in that election
This contribution examines how links between citizens and Members of the Bundestag have evolved since 1949. The focus will be on institutional incentives relating to the electoral system and the rules of procedure in the Bundestag. In addition, new incentives arising from technological developments (especially internet and Web 2.0 applications) will be explored in their effect on individual parliamentary behaviour vis-a-vis citizens and in the Bundestag’s ‘corporate’ links (i.e., links not based on electoral incentives in the constituencies and the chamber) with citizens. In particular, the development of petitions and electronic petitions will be assessed. While the evidence presented suggests that Bundestag Members have enhanced communication with citizens, this has not halted the decline in popular support for the House. In line with other advanced liberal democracies, trust in parliament is declining as a result of a more critical, less deferential citizenry.
After reviewing the literature on cabinet terminations and demonstrating the progress from early
explanations based on the structural attributes of cabinets and their political environment to increasingly
sophisticated ‘unified’ models of strategic responses to exogenous shocks, this chapter will (a) discuss
ways of using existing datasets to operationalize one of these unified models, Lupia and Strøm’s influential
model of strategic cabinet termination (focusing on the conditions of political institutions to influence the
costs of governing under the impact of exogenous shocks such as economic crises); and (b) test a version
of it empirically by using a competing-risk design and a new set of political and economic data covering 28
European democracies over a period of more than 60 years. It is found that strong increases in
unemployment were particularly destructive for European cabinets, whereas the impact of inflation seems
to be mitigated by political and strategic factors. Duration-dependent effects—unemployment increasing
the risk of early elections towards the end of a parliamentary term and increasing the risk of non-electoral
cabinet replacements at its beginning—are small but significant, corroborating some of the strategic
predictions of the Lupia–Strøm model.
Black, Asian and minority-ethnic (BAME) citizens are under-represented in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, the Chamber's ethnic composition has become more reflective of the general population as a result of the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections. The paper seeks to map and explain variations in the extent to which BAME Members of Parliament (MPs) use the Chamber to articulate issues relevant to minority constituents. We compare the content of all parliamentary questions for written answer asked by BAME MPs between May 2005 and December 2011 to the questions asked by a matching sample of non-minority legislators. We find that BAME MPs ask more questions relating to the problems and rights of ethnic minorities in, and immigration to, the UK. However, we also find that all British MPs are responsive to the interests of minority constituents where these are geographically concentrated. Building on theoretical predictions derived from (a) models focusing on MPs’ political socialisation and (b) on the electoral incentives they are facing, we discover that the MPs in our sample respond systematically to electoral incentives, especially in the politically salient area of immigration policy. While these findings are in line with an ’electoral-incentives model’, whereas a ‘socialisation model’ is better suited to explain the larger number of questions on the interests of ethnic minorities asked by Labour MPs.
Does the growing descriptive representation of minority-ethnic legislators in the British House of Commons have any implications for the substantive representation of minority-related issues in the UK Parliament? This study is based on a data set of over 16,000 parliamentary questions tabled by 50 British backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) in the 2005-2010 Parliament, including the 16 immigrant-origin MPs with a ‘visible-minority’ background. Based on a series of multivariate models, it is found that all British MPs sampled for this study – irrespective of their ethnic status – respond to electoral incentives arising from the socio-demographic composition of their constituencies: Minority and non-minority MPs alike ask more questions relating to minority concerns, if they represent constituencies with a high share of non-White residents. Controlling for that general effect, however, MPs with a visible-minority status do tend to ask significantly more questions about ethnic diversity and equality issues.