Textbook Ch 9.docx

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University of Massachusetts Amherst
Political Science
Daniel Drugge

Chapter 9: Legislatures and Legislators - Three functions of parliaments: o Representational: parliaments represent either the views of citizens or particular groups’ o Governmental: legislatures contribute to forming governments, formulating policy, ensuring accountability, and enhancing communications o Procedural: determine the procedures under which legislatures do their work - Representational function: o Achieved as a result of the party system o Or, governments require quotas of the various ethnic groups/gender ratios to be fulfilled in order to be a microcosm of society as a whole o Whoever is an MP is understood to be a channel of communication for whoever they represent to those in authority although they can and do exercise their own discretion in expressing their personal opinions or individual judgements o Many states use the principle of parliamentary immunity so deputies can speak out without fear of prosecution or threat of libel o Problems arise in the format of constituencies (i.e. size, locations, electors per) whether they States are under the single-national or multi-party systems - Governmental function: o Parliamentarianism denotes the principle that parliament is the final arbiter in the choice of the government head o Alternative principle of presidentialism means that the head or state either determines the choice of PM if there is one (France) or is personally the head of the executive branch of government (USA)  Presidential systems have dual legitimacy in the form of the executive and legislative branches which are elected separately and have their own mandate  Fixed term in office o In parliamentary systems the normal practice is that the PM is chosen because he/she can command a majority otherwise coalition or minority governments form o Legal function explains to a certain extent the high composition of lawyers in government o Function of ensuring accountability is important in that it increases the incentive for credible commitments  Parliaments are not the only institutions that keep governments accountable, the media does too o Legislatures also contribute to the formation of public opinion and sets the agenda for public debate, especially in terms of moral issues like abortion or
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