This project will examine how partisan and electoral institutions influence parliamentary debates. Despite its importance in the democratic process, parliamentary debate has received less attention than voting, the other primary form of legislative activity. While elections in the EU and in member states increasingly demonstrate voters' disenchantment with politics, it is unknown how various communication channels between politicians and voters actually work. This includes parliamentary debates as the most visible of these channels. The project will draw upon institutional theories of legislative politics to study the strategic nature of political communication and collect new data on legislative debate participation and content in national parliaments (Germany and the UK) and in the European Parliament. In addition, it will employ novel quantitative text-analytic methods to evaluate the data and build upon the methodological arsenal developed in computational linguistics in order to estimate legislators' positions from speeches. This project aims at generating new insights into the institutional foundations of democratic debate participation and content in parliaments, expanding the scope of the questions explored in previous studies on parliamentary deliberation and comparative institutional analysis of legislatures, and at establishing interdisciplinary linkages between political science and computational linguistics. In addition, this project will lead to new research tools for the analysis of political speech.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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