Parliamentary Committees in the Policy Process

Parliamentary Committees are often seen as the central place where policy is made in modern democracies. They do exist in almost all parliaments today, in democratic and non-democratic systems, in parliamentary and presidential democracies. Political science has provided very useful comparative studies on the formal settings of committees in Western democracies, but some of them need to be updated after a few decades have passed. There has also been some investigation on committee assignment and its determinants more recently. However, what exactly is going on inside committees has not been studied very much, not the least because committees traditionally have held their sessions closed to the public in many parliaments and thus data access has been difficult.

As a first step towards better understanding, a more explorative approach is necessary to figure out what goes on in committees, how it is related to institutional characteristics and what the current developments are.

The book aims to build on the existing research and go beyond it by following three goals:

  1. to update the studies of institutional indicators in order to reflect recent changes in formal procedures and informal practices,
  2. to extend the perspective beyond the walls of the parliamentary buildings and investigate the influence of parliamentary committees – and the actors within them – in the respective policy networks,
  3. to broaden the perspective beyond liberal democracies and include political systems in current or recent transition.

Contributors to this research project have developed and discussed a common research framework during and after a joint workshop held in Valencia, Spain, in October 2019. It combines a neo-institutional perspective with the catalogues of parliamentary functions and the research framework of the policy cycle.

The main objective of the project is to work out the role of parliamentary committees in policy making of various political systems through a detailed and thick description of country cases based on a common research framework. By investigating committees in numerous parliaments, it can lead to a better academic understanding, help to improve parliamentary communication and assist in parliamentary development efforts worldwide.

First results will be published in an edited volume in 2021 by Routledge. Editors are Hilmar Rommetvedt and Sven T. Siefken with the following chapters:

  • Sven T. Siefken and Hilmar Rommetvedt: Engine Room or Decoration? A Research Framework on Parliamentary Committees in the Policy Process
  • Ali Sawi: Assist, not only Assess: A Preliminary Analysis of Committees in Arab Parliaments
  • Flemming Juul Christiansen and Henrik Jensen: Bargaining Within but Mostly Outside Legislative Committees in Denmark
  • Tapio Raunio: Committees in the Finnish Eduskunta: Cross-Party Cooperation and Legislative Scrutiny Behind Closed Doors
  • Claire Bloquet: Making Committees Matter? A Tale of Chasing and Missing the Right Reform in the French National Assembly
  • Ernest Darfour: From ‘a Rubber Stamp’ to Policy Influencing Committees: The Parliament of Ghana in Critical Perspective
  • Sven T. Siefken: No Paradise of Policy Making. The Role of Parliamentary Committees in the German Bundestag
  • Csaba Nikolenyi: Parliamentary Committees and Negative Agenda Control in the Hungarian Parliament, 1998 to 2018
  • Chen Friedberg: Dimensions of Committee Strength: Legislative and Oversight Powers of the Parliamentary Committee System in Israel
  • Ellis S. Krauss and Kuniaki Nemoto: Japan's Unusual but Interesting Parliamentary Committees: An Arena and Transformative Model?
  • Benjamin Ekeyi: The Role of Legislative Committees in Nigeria. Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Practice in Oversight Functions
  • Hilmar Rommetvedt: Norwegian Parliamentary Committees: Sidelined in the Policy Process?
  • Pablo Oñate and Bernabé Aldeguer: Strong Committees, Weak Members. The Committee System in the Spanish Congreso de los Diputados
  • Ömer Faruk Gençkaya: Limited Influence after the Constitutional Reform of 2017. Legislative Committees in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, 2002 to 2020
  • Irina Khmelko, Oleksii Bruslyk and Liudmyla Vasylieva: Legislative Committees in the Policy Process: The Case of the Ukrainian Parliament
  • Mark Goodwin, Stephen Holden Bates, Stephen McKay, Louise Thompson: Deviant No Longer? The Development and Reform of the UK House of Commons Committee, 1979 to Present
  • Sven T. Siefken and Hilmar Rommetvedt: Conclusion: Misunderstood Mechanisms of Committees in the Policy Process



RC08 is working on an archive to commemorate the work of the late Lawrence Longley. Professor Longley was Chair of RC08 for a number of years and published extensively on legislative issues and American political institutions. Part of the archive work is to obtain working papers of the late Professor Longley with Lawrence University. RC08 is planning on placing an archive on library website and making it available to readers around the world.



RC08 is planning to announce the David Olson Prize for the best IPSA World Congress paper on parliamentary issues by a junior scholar. The David Olson Prize will first be rewarded for a single-authored paper by a scholar below the age of 35 (or with a PhD completed no more than seven years ago) presented at the 26th IPSA World Congress in Lisbon. 

Details of the Call for the David Olson Prize will be available on the RC08 website soon.