The Life and Times of Bills

Becker, Rolf; Saalfeld, Thomas (2004). The Life and Times of Bills. In: Döring, Herbert; Hallerberg, Mark (eds.) Patterns of Parliamentary Behavior. Passage of Legislation Across Western Europe (pp. 57-90). Aldershot: Ashgate

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Time is one of the scarcest resources in modern parliaments. In parliamentary systems of government the control of time in the chamber is a significant power resource enjoyed – to varying degrees – by parliamentary majorities and the governments they support. Minorities may not be able to muster enough votes to stop bills, but they may have – varying degrees of – delaying powers enabling them to extract concessions from majorities attempting to get on with their overall legislative programme. This paper provides a comparative analysis of the dynamics of the legislative process in 17 West European parliaments from the formal initiation of bills to their promulgation. The ‘biographies’ of a sample of bills are examined using techniques of event-history analysis (a) charting the dynamics of the legislative process both across the life-times of individual bills and different political systems and (b) examining whether, and to what extent, parliamentary rules and some general regime attributes influence the dynamics of this process, speeding up or delaying the passage of legislation. Using a veto-points framework and transaction cost politics as a theoretical framework, the quantitative analyses suggest a number of counter-intuitive findings (e.g., the efficiency of powerful committees) and cast doubt on some of the claims made by Tsebelis in his veto-player model.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Education > Sociology of Education

UniBE Contributor:

Becker, Rolf


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science








Rolf Becker

Date Deposited:

07 Aug 2014 10:32

Last Modified:

07 Aug 2014 10:32


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