Library Header Image
LSE Theses Online London School of Economics web site

Legislatures, democratic control and budgeting: A comparative institutional analysis.

Wehner, Joachim Hans-Georg (2007) Legislatures, democratic control and budgeting: A comparative institutional analysis. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

Download (12MB) | Preview


There is a growing literature by political scientists and increasingly economists on the institutional determinants of public policy, in particular broad constitutional parameters such as presidential versus parliamentary regimes and different electoral systems. However, given the fact that resource allocation is at the heart of the political process, surprisingly little work supports a theoretically rigorous assessment of the cross-national distribution of parliamentary power over budget policy. This thesis presents an explicitly comparative analytical framework for assessing legislative budgeting and applies this framework to a sample of contemporary democracies. The focus is on how institutional arrangements determine both the extent of legislative control as well as budget outcomes. The thesis uses a unique dataset on legislative budget institutions in 36 industrialised, developing and transition countries, along with case study evidence. The historical evolution of legislative budgeting underscores the importance of institutions in achieving democratic control. One way of enabling rigorous cross-national comparison is to focus on a set of essential institutional prerequisites for legislative control of public finance. These variables are operationalised in the form of an index of legislative budget institutions, which demonstrates substantial variation in the budgetary role of legislatures across liberal democracies. Former UK colonies have particularly poorly developed legislative capacity for financial control, whereas the opposite typically holds for countries with protracted periods of minority government. While a number of institutional arrangements determine the extent of legislative control, the empirical evidence supports the theoretical prediction that few variables unambiguously affect fiscal outcomes, notably the nature of legislative powers to amend the budget tabled by the executive. Legislatures that self-impose constraints to support fiscally prudent choices, such as the Swedish Parliament, can nonetheless remain powerful budgetary actors, as long as they retain control over the design of the process itself. In taking the institutionalist agenda in political science further, this thesis demonstrates the benefits of complementing research on broad constitutional differences with more nuanced studies of the institutional setting in particular policy areas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Government

Actions (login required)

Record administration - authorised staff only Record administration - authorised staff only


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics