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Who gets what and why? Committee assignments in the German Bundestag

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Although committee assignments have been researched in various parliaments, findings are inconclusive. This article contributes to the debate by analysing the allocations to specialised committees in the Bundestag, a legislature that establishes strong committees despite having strong parliamentary party groups. Studying assignments in this legislature can, therefore, help us to solve the present disjunction between ‘European’ and ‘American’ experiences regarding committee research. The study uses the congressional theories of legislative organisation as heuristic devices but explicitly highlights the strong involvement of parliamentary party groups. The hypotheses are tested with a multiple membership multilevel model across several legislative periods (1990‐2013) and backed up with evidence from 51 interviews with German legislators. The results show that next to constituency demands and the influence of regional factions, there is strong evidence for a reassignment pattern and that a legislator’s occupational background and connections to interest groups matter in the assignment process.
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Keywords: Bundestag; Legislative organisation; committee assignments; congressional theories

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Political Sciences, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands

Publication date: March 4, 2018

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