Democratic Legislative Institutions: A Comparative View

Democratic Legislative Institutions: A Comparative View

Democratic Legislative Institutions: A Comparative View

Democratic Legislative Institutions: A Comparative View

Synopsis

This text summarizes the research on, and experiences of, democratic legislatures around the world. It focuses on what legislatures are and what they do - as both consequence of and contributor to democratic self-government.

Excerpt

This book was initially drafted in Prague for students at Charles University only two years after the collapse of communism. It will, I hope, also be useful for students in established, as well as beginning, democracies.

Democratic legislative bodies are continually changing. Not only do we increase our knowledge of existing and stable democratic legislatures, but the recent transformations of authoritarian systems in Latin America and Southern Europe, and now in Central Europe, the republics of the former Soviet Union, and in Africa, have created entirely new legislatures.

New members of new legislatures in newly formed democratic political systems have a unique opportunity--at times it may seem a burden--to experiment and to develop new ways of organizing and acting. They are not condemned to repeat either the mistakes or the successes of the existing democracies.

The information I have learned about the new legislatures of both Central Europe and Africa is included in this book. I have visited and researched parliaments in Poland and the former Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic, and in Nigeria and other African countries. There are now, in the 1990s, many legislatures at the beginning of their development. Special attention--mostly in the form of speculation because we have little research--is given to beginning legislatures in chapter 7.

The chapters of this book may be read in any order convenient to the reader. The three appendices contain reference sources that may be consulted throughout the reading of the book.

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