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Cover Comparative European Politics

5. Democracy and the EU  

Tapio Raunio

This chapter examines the relationship between European integration and democracy. The continuous transfer of policy-making powers from European Union (EU) member states to the European level has raised serious concerns about democratic legitimacy. The chapter assesses the claims that European integration undermines national democracy, and that decision-making at the EU level is not sufficiently democratic. It argues that while significant challenges remain, European integration has definitely become more democratic over the years. But there is perhaps a trade-off, with stronger input legitimacy potentially an obstacle to efficient European-level decision-making. It also underlines the multilevel nature of the EU polity and the importance of public debates about European integration.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

7. Legislatures  

Amie Kreppel

This chapter focuses on the political roles and powers of legislatures. It first describes different types of legislatures on the basis of their functions and relationship with the executive branch, before analysing the roles of legislatures within the political system as a whole, as well as several critical aspects of the internal organizational structures of legislatures. It then examines the relationship between the political power and influence of a legislature and the structure of the broader political and party system. The discussion focuses on legislatures within modern democratic political systems, although many points apply to all legislatures, regardless of regime. The chapter also explains how legislature differs from assembly, parliament, and congress.

Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

9. Parliaments  

Shane Martin

Parliaments are the cornerstone of representative democracy. This chapter examines the role and performance of national parliaments in European democracies. The chapter begins with a review of how parliaments are designed, including the number of chambers and the power of parliamentary committees. It discusses parliaments’ roles and functions, including law-making, government formation, oversight, and political representation, and assesses whether parliaments reflect the make-up of the citizenry at large. The chapter then discusses the possibility of strong parties and dominant executives within the legislative arena leading to weak parliaments, as well as recent attempts to strengthen the capacity of national parliaments.

Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

7. Legislatures  

Amie Kreppel

This chapter focuses on the political roles and powers of legislatures. It first describes different types of legislatures on the basis of their functions and relationship with the executive branch, before analysing the roles of legislatures within the political system as a whole, as well as several critical aspects of the internal organizational structures of legislatures. It then examines the relationship between the political power and influence of a legislature and the structure of the broader political and party system. The discussion focuses on legislatures within modern democratic political systems, although many points apply to all legislatures, regardless of regime. The chapter also explains how legislature differs from assembly, parliament, and congress.