The role of legislative committees in parliamentary governments’ accountability: a comparative analysis of the United Kingdom and Turkey
Bektaş, Ümmühan Eda
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Present study examines the role of legislative committees in single party majority and coalition governments’ accountability in the U.K. and Turkey. The literature discusses both legislatures’ contribution to policymaking as “marginal” or “ineffective” vis-a-vis governments, and their committees are expected to reflect this tendency. This approach equates formal capabilities (potential) with scrutiny behavior (influence), and claims that weak legislatures cannot substantially influence their governments’ legislation. In contrast, this research argues that legislative committees function as accountability mechanisms when they activate their formal capabilities and change the content of government bills. Rather than a description of formal capabilities, this study uses scrutiny powers and committee amendments as direct empirical measures to estimate the impact of legislative committees on governments. It also argues that committees’ scrutiny of government bills depends on the government control over the committees changing according to government type. The overall findings based on an original dataset suggest that both in the U.K. and Turkey, legislative committees can and do amend the content of government bills, and their likelihood of making substantial amendments to government bills increases when they base their intervention on their scrutiny powers. In both cases, committees during the coalition government term were more open and inclusive to actors outside the parliament leading committees to be affected by this knowledge and information in their scrutiny of government bills. In contrast, committees during single majority government term remained majoritarian and based their amendments on the information provided by the government representatives in committees.