In all parliamentary democracies, governments delegate some policymaking competence to bureaucrats. The very conception of cabinet governments comprised of ministers, who are derived from the party majorities and held in toe with the party line, implies a certain overlap between the executive and legislature. Policy delegation in both presidential and parliamentary systems may be motivated by limited resources, informational asymmetries and a desire to gain from bureaucratic expertise, but it also creates a certain moral hazard by granting bureaucrats the opportunity to act against the legislative preferences of the parliament. Parliamentary legislation can limit the potential for this drift, but also comes at the cost of less informed, more cumbersome legislation and the less efficient use of parliamentary resources. The propensity of decision makers to delegate vary widely across political systems and policy areas. This project asks how differences in the preferences of the legislating actors and the degree of institutional control over bureaucrats may affect the extent of policy delegation in four parliamentary systems (Germany, UK, France and Turkey).
Although theoretical approaches to this topic abound, empirical research remains starkly limited. This project will test, extend and refine the transaction cost, principal-agent theory based on divided government in the US presidential system with a comparative perspective on parliamentary democracies. The selected countries vary with regard to their electoral systems, party tradition, level of democratic consolidation and legal tradition. The project will assess the relative potential for and intervening factors limiting or encouraging the use of executive policy instruments in these states over a twenty-five year period. This approach will link bureaucratic delegation to institutional design and political considerations such as popular legitimacy and preference constellations of legislating actors.
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