New DFF Project on the Determinants of Legislative Capacity

Florian Hollenbach and David Fortunato receive DFF Project 1 grant to study the causes and consequences of differences in legislative capacity across OECD countries


In democratic systems, policymaking involves a partnership between parliaments and bureaucrats. Parliaments create laws, while bureaucrats implement them. The resources available to parliaments for creating effective laws and monitoring the bureaucracy's implementation determines how much influence bureaucrats can exert on policy. This creates a strategic dilemma: How much capacity should the legislature have? In this project, we explore the institutional frameworks that lead parliaments to increase or decrease their own resources. We start by developing a theoretical argument that examines the choices made by parliamentary majorities when determining the legislature's capacity. To empirically investigate our theoretical framework, we will gather comprehensive data on legislators' resources and the regulatory mechanisms governing parliamentary conduct for OECD countries over the last two decades and subnational parliaments in Italy and Denmark. We will use this data and advanced statistical methods to understand why some countries have weak parliaments while others have strong parliaments with ample resources. Additionally, we will investigate the effect of parliamentary capacity on policy congruence with citizens' preferences. Our project will shed light on the possible benefits of increasing legislative capacity and its impact on democratic accountability.