Sonja Puntscher Riekmann/ Doris Wydra, Representation in the European State of Emergency:Parliaments against Governments?

"If governments allow themselves to be entirely bound to the decisions of their parliament, without protecting their own freedom to act, a break up of Europe would be a more probable outcome than deeper integration." The statement of the Italian Prime Minister and head of the so-called “governo tecnico” is one remarkable instance for colliding visions of representation in  EU  member  states  affected  by  the  financial  crisis.  It bares an old problem of representation:   that   is,   representation   of   the   whole   versus   representation   of   the   parts. National  parliaments  are  called  to endorse  the European  decisions  of  their  governments  and  simultaneously  to  sell  the  sacrifices  to their   constituencies.   This   development   is   conducive   to   clashes   between   parliaments   and governments.  The  collision occurs between governments representing the Euro  and  Europe  and  national  parliaments  representing  national  voters’  interests. 

Nevertheless in  the period  of  analysis  (2010-2012)  the  governments  generally  succeeded  in  commanding  the  majority  needed  to  pass  relevant  legislation, whereby most intriguingly majorities were repeatedly formed by government and opposition parties.  We are interested in the analysis of how this came about, how MPs argued over and negotiated the outcome. The hypothesis is twofold: First, we expect that despite reservations the majority consents because  entrapped  in  a  European discourse,  building  on  arguments  of  how  the  rescue mechanisms are to the best to European as well as national interests. Second, budget competence being the “crown jewel” of parliaments these are anxious to keep control of decisions taken at the European  level  and  have  to  be  satisfied  through  side-payments  or  constitutional  concessions strengthening their control function.

To test our hypothesis we analyzed parliamentary debates and negotiations of national parliaments in three member states: Germany, Italy and Austria.

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