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Reforming the Rules of the Parliamentary Game: Measuring and Explaining Changes in Parliamentary Rules in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, 1945–2010

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Questions of institutional change have recently received increased attention in comparative politics. Even though comparative legislative research has identified important effects of parliamentary rules on processes and outputs as well as large variation across countries, we know very little about changes in these rules. This article takes several steps towards mapping and explaining rule changes in European parliaments. Theoretically, it sketches a model explaining such changes based on the rational choice notion of institutions as endogenous equilibria. Methodologically, it proposes two complementary approaches to measure rule changes. In combination, these measures allow us to identify the content, relevance, and effects of changes in parliamentary rules. Empirically, the article provides the first systematic analysis of all changes in the parliamentary standing orders of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland since 1945. This analysis demonstrates that parliamentary rules are changed frequently and massively. It also identifies differences across countries and content areas that are largely in line with theoretical expectations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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