Research on Comparative Institutional Design


Legislative Opposition Power and Satisfaction with Democracy of MPs
Whereas most research in legislative studies has focused on explaining legislative organization or on the consequences of parliamentary rules for the work of specific parliamentary institutions, little research has focused on the extra-legislative consequences of legislative organization. At the same time, existing research in public opinion has repeatedly pointed to the crucial role of institutions for the level of democratic consent among winners and losers at the citizen level. In this research, however, the legislature has not figured prominently among the institutional determinants of satisfaction with democracy. I bring these two literatures together and analyze the effect of legislative rules on the satisfaction with democracy MPs express. I analyze the power attributed to opposition MPs and parties during the policy-making process and its link to satisfaction with democracy of government and opposition MPs. By focusing on legislatures – the institutions where losers of democratic elections are represented – I present a more direct link between institutional organization and satisfaction with democracy of these losers at the elite level.


The Power of Opposition. How Legislative Organization Influences Democratic Consolidation
Book forthcoming 2022 with Routledge. More information

Policy-Making Power of Opposition Players
The organisation of legislative chambers and the consequences of parliamentary procedures have been among the most prominent research questions in legislative studies. Even though democratic elections not only lead to the formation of a government but also result in an opposition, the literature has mostly neglected oppositions and their role in legislative chambers. This paper proposes to fill this gap by looking at the legislative organisation from the perspective of opposition players. The paper focuses on the potential influence of opposition players in the policy-making process and presents data on more than 50 legislative chambers. The paper shows considerable variance of the formal power granted to opposition players. Furthermore, the degree of institutionalisation of opposition rights is connected to electoral systems and not necessarily correlated with other institutional characteristics such as regime type or the size of legislative chambers.

Published article:
Wegmann, Simone. 2020. Policy-Making Power of Opposition Players. A Comparative Institutional Perspective. The Journal of Legislative Studies. online first: 1-26. Article (open access)

Parliamentary Voting Procedures in Comparison (with Simon Hug, University of Geneva, and Reto Wüest, University of Bergen)
Increasingly, scholars of legislative politics propose comparative analyses of parliamentary voting behavior across different countries and parliaments. Yet parliamentary voting procedures differ dramatically across parliamentary chambers and ignoring these differences may, in the extreme, lead to meaningless comparisons. In this paper we present a first glimpse at a comprehensive data collection effort covering more than 250 parliamentary chambers in 176 countries. Focusing on European legislatures we find some notable differences as compared to previous studies on parliamentary voting procedures. We propose to analyze what explains the presence and use of various voting procedures and find that electoral institutions play a non-negligeable role.

Published article:
Hug, Simon, Simone Wegmann and Reto Wüest. 2015. Parliamentary Voting Procedures in Comparison. West European Politics 38(5): 940-968. Article