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Cover Exploring Parliament

11. Campaigning to Change Law and Policy  

Paul E. J. Thomas and Stacey Frier

This chapter considers the ways in which backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) and peers campaign to change laws and government policies. Policy and legislative campaigning is often conducted by groups of MPs and peers who work together across party lines. Such groupings are commonly supported by external pressure groups, who help to keep the parliamentarians informed on the issue, and who can also provide resources to support campaigning activities. MPs and peers also coordinate their parliamentary activities with lobbying by their pressure group partners. The chapter first examines traditional assumptions about influencing government before turning to actors involved in campaigning to change law and policy. It also describes the formal parliamentary tools as well as informal means employed by backbenchers who campaign for policy or legislative change, along with contemporary developments regarding such activity.


Cover European Union Politics

12. The European Parliament  

Charlotte Burns

This chapter focuses on the European Parliament (EP), an institution that has been transformed from being a relatively powerless institution into one that is able to have a genuine say in the legislative process and hold the European Union’s executive bodies to account. However, increases in the Parliament’s formal powers have not been matched by an increase in popular legitimacy: decreasing turnout in European elections up to 2014 turned around in 2019, but an increasing share of the vote is now going to populist Eurosceptic parties. The EP’s legislative power is comparable to that of many national parliaments, but it has struggled to connect with the wider European public. The chapter explores these issues: the EP’s evolution from talking shop to co-legislator; its powers and influence; its internal structure and organization, with a focus on the role and behaviour of the political groups. Finally, the EP’s representative function as the EU’s only directly elected institution is discussed.