23 Mar

Lecture at Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, KU Leuven

Patrick A. Mello on ‘Parliamentary Rebellion in Cases of War and Peace? Comparing the UK and Germany’

Jean Monnet Network PACO, 2017 Spring Lecture Series: Rebels With a Cause? Parliamentary Resilience in European and Global Governance

Lecture Series Introduction:European and global governance have in common that they refer to policy-making and problem-solving beyond traditional nation states. Often, the role of parliaments in their capacity as legislators, scrutinizers of executives and democratic gatekeepers is overlooked in this regard. There have been notorious cases in the past, such as the US Senate’s non-approval of the League of Nations and International Trade Organization charters, or the French Assemblée’s non-approval of the European Defence Community. Recently, parliaments have become increasingly more assertive, as inter alia illustrated by the European Parliament’s rejection of the SWIFT and ACTA agreements, and by the Walloon Parliament’s resistance to CETA.

The present lecture series addresses the evolving roles of parliaments in European and global governance by looking in particular at such ‘parliamentary rebellions’. This refers to situations in which parliaments actively use their prerogatives to challenge decision-making and diplomacy in European and global governance. Parliamentary rebellions appear to take place for various reasons. The lecture series provides various ‘tales’ of such rebellions in order to understand and explain the causes, factors and forces that drive parliaments when they threaten to veto international treaties or use their parliamentary prerogatives, for instance by voting against military interventions [Read Further] [Lecture Brochure]

21 Mar

Special Issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy”

Proposal for a Special Issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy” Accepted by BJPIR

The Editors of The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (BJPIR) have accepted a proposal for a special issue on “Parliaments and Security Policy”, guest-edited by Patrick A. Mello and Dirk Peters, to be published in early 2018.

BJPIR is a peer reviewed journal of the Political Studies Association of the UK with an Impact Factor of 1.423 (2016) and Rankings of 62/165 in Political Science and 24/86 in International Relations [More Information].

Summary: This special issue zeroes in on the pivotal democratic institution – parliament – to study legislative involvement in security matters and its effects on policy outcomes. The contributions employ a diverse set of theoretical perspectives and methods to explore the role of parliaments across a broad range of contemporary Western democracies. In doing so, they address three central questions:

(1) What are the opportunity structures for parliamentary involvement in security policy? IR studies often view security policy as dominated by the executive and parliamentary involvement as narrowly circumscribed by constitutional rules. The contributions show that parliamentary influence on security policy is not determined by the extent of formal competences. Instead, we highlight the role of executive leadership styles, of coalition politics, and of parliamentarians’ strategies to make the case for a richer and dynamic understanding of parliaments in security policy.

(2) Are parliaments sites of politicization of security policy? There is a widely-held belief in politics and political theory that parliamentary involvement contributes to the contestation and politicization of security decisions, which is seen by some as endangering the effectiveness of security policy and by others as a welcome challenge to executive dominance and a step towards democratization of this policy field. To examine this assumption, we provide cross-case comparisons of parliamentary politics in the security realm. We show that parliamentary involvement can affect public opinion on executive policies but that parliaments can also contribute to the de-politicization of security issues.

(3) What is the effect of parliamentary participation in security policy? Against the background of insights about the opportunity structure for parliamentary involvement and the parliamentary politics of security, contributions address the effects on policy outcomes. In particular, we examine whether there is cross-country evidence for a “parliamentary peace” and whether parliamentary war powers entail unintended consequences that run counter to normative expectations or historical aims.

20 Mar

Book Review in Perspectives on Politics

Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict Reviewed by Anja Jetschke (University of Göttingen)

The new issue of Perspectives on Politics (15: 1) contains a review of Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

From the review:Patrick A. Mello addresses a set of important questions: Why and under what conditions do democracies participate in armed conflict? Do constitutional provisions that define limits to participation in military actions, the rights of parliaments to veto participation, or public opinion provide effective constraints on democratic leaders? Are conservative, rightist governments more war prone than leftist governments? Or is military capacity—that is, governments’ ability to actually conduct such interventions—the most effective constraint?

One of the most important findings of Democratic Participation in Armed Conflict is that constitutional provisions matter. They provide effective barriers against the participation of democracies, especially for interventions whose international legal basis is controversial. Thus, where international law fails to prevent such wars, domestic constitutions step in—at least in the case of established democracies. None of the democracies with constitutional constraints have participated in such interventions [Read Further]