ECPR General Conference, Oslo 2017

Panel P050: “Closed and Coopted? Parliamentary
Oversight when Security is at Stake”

Paper: “The Unintended Consequences of
Parliamentary War Powers: A Comparative
Analysis of Canada and Germany” (with Philippe Lagassé)

Abstract: This paper argues that there is a need to question whether parliamentary war powers actually lead to the intended effects of increased democratic deliberation and responsiveness. We compare the unintended consequences of parliamentary votes on the use of force in two ‘most-different cases’: Canada and Germany. Despite substantive differences in the formal war powers of their parliaments, we find that military deployment votes on Afghanistan led to less democratic deliberation and responsiveness. Applying rationalist institutionalism, we argue that the deployment votes incentivized major parties to collude together to lessen debate on the Afghan mission, despite increasing public opposition and media attention. Rather than enhancing deliberation and responsiveness, as assumed by proponents of greater parliamentary war powers, these parliamentary votes effectively diminished the willingness of parties to debate the mission. A PDF of the conference program can be accessed here. [More Information]