Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Political Parties and Their Influence on the Parliamentary Mandate after the Fall of Communism in Montenegro and Serbia

Academic journal article Studia Politica; Romanian Political Science Review

Political Parties and Their Influence on the Parliamentary Mandate after the Fall of Communism in Montenegro and Serbia

Article excerpt

Introduction

The main purpose of this article is to provide an answer to the question of how political parties influence the nature of the parliamentary mandate, and the power of the parliament in general, in post-communist countries such as Montenegro and Serbia. After a brief review of the theoretical literature that supports the thesis that the modern parliament is being marginalized, the argumentation takes issue with the electoral system, which is the main independent variable that affects the significance and activity of MPs and the power of parliament in general, as a dependent variable. Among other independent variables, this study examines the instruments and methods of political parties through which they fight for the exercise of control over their MPs. Furthermore, EU integration is considered as another variable since it has led to a transfer of a large part of legislative competencies from the national to the European level, and it has also affected the balance of power between national parliaments and their governments in favour of national executives1. Have political parties indeed reshaped the nature of the representative parliamentary mandate in transitional Montenegro and Serbia? Can we notice any changes over time in how political parties approach the fight for control over their MPs? What could be the effects of establishing a proportional electoral system with open lists on the autonomy of MPs and the strengthening of parliament? These are the fundamental questions that we set out to answer in this article.

From a methodological point of view, we use a case-study approach, which is the intensive study of a single unit for the purpose of understanding a larger class of (similar) units, where the unit connotes a spatially bounded phenomenon observed at a single point in time or over some delimited period of time2. Our research framework involves the parliamentary regimes of both Montenegro and Serbia, and takes into account their progress towards European integration. Therefore, this case study can be useful to other countries facing similar challenges in this process. Besides, their situation reflects the problems in the functioning of parliaments in young democracies in the post-communist transition period. A further justification for this case study is the fact that certain instruments such as blank-form resignations and instances of violation of the constitution show how far parties are prepared to go in order to keep their influence on MPs. This article is divided into three sections. In the first section, we briefly present the theoretical framework concerning the importance and the power of parliament in the contemporary parliamentary system, in relation to the influence of political parties, government, and the process of integration. Secondly, the analysis focuses on the post-communist experience of Montenegro and Serbia with regard to the nature of the parliamentary mandate. The third section analyzes the possible effects of changes of the electoral system in response to the issue of the legislature's fading power, before offering some concluding remarks.

The Role Of The Modem Parliament In Consolidated Democracies: A Theoretical Overview

The modern parliament suffers from an increasing trend towards marginalization, and long gone is the time when it found itself at the centre of the political system. It is important to note, though, that historically the function of the parliament has always been overemphasized. For example, Walter Bagehot in his capital work "The English Constitution", in addition to its legislative function and the function of forming government, mentions the elective, expressive, teaching, informing functions of parliament3. This trend towards degradation of the parliament was already recognized in the previous century. Even in societies with a substantial history of parliamentary democracy, the parliament has become increasingly marginalized in a world characterized by globalization, the appearance of many new, diverse policymaking areas, radical specialization, and an explosion of new, vigorous political agents, namely NGOs4. …

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